Oldroyd review: “Dining out on grown-up comfort food”
PUBLISHED: 17:51 21 January 2016 | UPDATED: 18:11 21 January 2016
“We’re all hobbits at Oldroyd,” jokes our waiter, Fabrizio, as my companion and I shoehorn ourselves into an upstairs table for two, laden with post-Christmas sales shopping and the layers of outerwear required to brave both storm Frank and the boutiques of Upper Street.
344 Upper Street
Lunch menu £15 for two courses, £18 for three
Wine from £22 a bottle
Phone: 020 8617 9010
Open Monday to Thursday 12pm to 11pm; Friday and Saturday 12pm to 11.30pm; and Sunday 10am to 10pm
Luckily the tiny restaurant has come up with various ingenious solutions to its small size, including a canny table layout that allows for a surprising number of covers over two floors, and a relaxed friendliness that inclines to make diners feel as well-disposed and forgiving towards the restaurant as if in a stylish friend’s flat.
Our coats and bags are whisked away and we settle in with a welcome glass of chilled cremant to peruse the sparing set lunch menu.
The restaurant’s evening offering is a small plates affair, unsurprising given owner Tom Oldroyd’s former career as chef director at small plates pioneers Polpo. The three-course lunch menu dishes are still shareable but are served as individual meals, ideal for a less leisurely occasion.
We start with cider and seaweed saucisson, which is intriguingly redolent of the sea until subtlety is overpowered by cornichons.
Mackerel pate is served spread on a halved slice of sourdough toast, the casual presentation compounding the overall sense of eating at a friend’s house. It’s a friend who knows how to blitz up a mighty fine mackerel pate though, with the emphasis firmly on the savoury fish flavour.
A plate of prawn and fennel risotto with four fat browned prawns sitting on a pool of saffron-coloured rice follows, alongside a dish of pork rib eye with lentils and salsa verde.
Both are comforting dishes, warming and wintry, but neither feels too heavy for lunch. The pork in particular is juicy and savoury, but the salsa verde gives it a freshness that reminds you that spring is just around the corner.
More winter comfort food finishes the meal with a bowl of orange, honey and pine nut rice pudding – nursery food for grown ups, with a faintly historical air suggested by the Christmassy nuts, raisins and orange scent.
The menu’s wholesome fare is well-suited to lunch and our meal was certainly not extortionately priced. But the food and presentation on our visit erred a little heavily on the homespun side compared to our expectations of the stylish restaurant setting.
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