Bistro offers plenty of food for thought
Stephen Moore enjoys a gastronomic feast at Barnsbury restaurant
Hemingford Road, N1
020 7609 3009
NESTLED within a stone’s throw of Barnsbury’s Hemingford Arms, the small, unassuming Fig Bistro could easily be as smug as a cat that got the cream, slurped it all up then found another barrel-load of it round the corner.
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But this new incarnation of Danish chef Christoffer Hruskova’s Fig restaurant really couldn’t be less sniffy.
Playing to its strengths with stripped wooden floorboards, subtle lighting and discreet leather-topped tables, there’s an elegant but homely feel making for an intimate date location. A meal under the fig tree in the rear garden on a warm summer’s evening must surely be a highlight too.
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The service was friendly and unobstrusive on our visit, and reassuringly knowledgable when asked which of their 60 wines (from �5.50 per glass or �21 per bottle) would match our food.
And what food. My melt-in-the-mouth braised beef cheek arrived jostling with sweet button onions and bacon chunks surrounded by celeriac and an earthy dark ale sauce for a strong but well-balanced starter (�8.50), while the fois gras terrine was smoked in-house and complemented by sweet quince aioli and grilled sourdough slices (�9).
The braised rabbit leg (�14.50) that followed was substantial, succulent and subtly flavoured, if a little overpowered by the red wine sauce, but the Galloway beef rump in garlic and parsely sauce (�14.80) was a sublime piece of meat.
The skin-on chips (�3.50), like mini railway sleepers, walked the tasty line between too greasy and too crispy, too.
An apple crumble with vanilla marscapone won out over the creme brulee and passion fruit sorbet (both �5.50), its soft sweet fruit echoed in a Saussignac dessert wine (�6) for a special treat.
At this quality, the two-course set menu for �15 on Sundays and Mondays sounds like a steal, while a four-course “Bistro special” at �35 represents good value too.
There was the odd niggle – a kitchen fan vigorously competing with the smooth jazz quietly piped into the room, the side orders amounting to Brussels sprouts or salad – but they couldn’t topple an exemplary gastronomic experience.
– Stephen Moore
Mains: �8 to �17
Children welcome: Yes
Disabled access: No