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The Islington Townhouse, review: ‘the perfect place to settle in for winter’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 October 2016

The Islington Townhouse. Picture; Amy Sanders

The Islington Townhouse. Picture; Amy Sanders

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The Islington Townhouse is the latest venue from Hippo Inns, serving pub food style tapas with a buzzing atmosphere

When it comes to dining out, how loud is too loud?

This is the first question I ask myself when I step into The Islington Townhouse.

Situated on the corner of busy Liverpool Road and Chapel Market, this is some prime real estate for Thursday night post-work drinks, and as I walk through the door and the buzz hits me, I’m not so sure I want to sit down and have a meal.

I’m not the type of person to feel awkward about ordering food when everyone else is “just having a few olives and a glass of champagne, please”.

But, for me, eating a meal is best enjoyed as a communal activity, and being surrounded by revellers feels a little off.

This is quickly erradicated when my Irish Martini arrives. Intensely sugary and jumping out of the glass with caffeine, the kick of Guinness syrup gives it an unexpected edge (£9). The noise doesn’t bother me, despite our waiter having to ask a few times before managing to hear what we order.

The three dish mix’n’match menu is alarmly good value. It turns out at £15 each for twice baked gruyère soufflé, gin cured salmon with beetroot and crème fraîche blinis, chicken schnitzel, a cheeseburger, chocolate fondants and crème caramel.

And...breathe.

I’m not sure how one twice bakes a soufflé, but it’s wobbly and airy like a soufflé should be. The blinis are perfect, with tastes coming in waves: first beetroot and crème fraîche, then salmon.

The “starters” are fantastic and, as my date keeps reminding me, I start to think it would’ve been better to have a table full of these plates.

That is, until the chicken schnitzel arrives. On a bed of brown butter and covered in capers and rocket, it’s comfort food of the highest degree, as anyone who knows me well knows my weakness for anything milanese-d. Here is one dish I didn’t want to share.

The dessert comes after we’ve had some time to let the savouries settle and made our way through a bit of wine.

The fondants, tiny quenelles (thank you Masterchef for teaching me this word) in a little paper sweet-shop bag with some salted caramel dipping sauce, unlike the chicken, do need to be shared. We’ve quickly cleared the plates of any remnant of these and blackberry topped crème caramel.

Before we leave, I take a turn about the building, finding far more to explore upstairs than is originally visible. There’s space for quieter dining at the back, and another “snug” bar beside it, as well as a space to settle into for the bitter winter months.

The Islington Townhouse seems to be more than a name; it describes the feel of the place perfectly in a way you can only really understand if you step through the door yourself.

And I recommend that you do.

The Islington Townhouse, 13 Liverpool Road, 0203 637 6424.islingtontownhouse.co.uk

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