Great British food in a home away from home
Daisy Jestico enjoys Sunday lunch at its best in a homely Highbury restaurant
Highbury Park, N5
020 7288 8716
GOOD hearty British grub in unpretentious surroundings is at the core of Juniper Dining’s success.
It has been just over a year since this neighbourhood restaurant opened its doors to Highbury’s great and good and it appears to have stuck to its ‘simple is best’ ethos with a passion.
The cosy wooden tables may be so small you can barely squeeze plates and wineglasses on – and yes you do need more than two glasses for a Sunday lunch – and it is a few minutes before you notice its minimalist d�cor, but the second you bite into any one of Juniper’s inspired British dishes it is a feast for the senses.
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Because proper British food is what Yorkshire born chef Rob Wilkinson does best.
With a starter of hash browns, egg and smoked salmon – essentially a fried breakfast with all the ingredients neatly piled on top of each other to transform it into fine dining – my husband was in foodie heaven.
His follow up main of slow cooked roast pork belly with a selection of FIVE vegetables and a Yorkshire pudding kept him so enthralled, conversation barely got a look in. Although the mammoth portion size left him struggling.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that the room is filled with families and couples. Evidently, the restaurant has become a home away from home for its neighbours when the lure of a Sunday roast gets too much for their empty stomachs to bear.
My starter of pear, stilton and walnut salad with a honey and mustard dressing was perfect to whet the appetite – a crunchy salad made infinitely more exciting by its delicate range of flavours.
I followed this up with a mouth watering parmesan and sweet potato risotto.
While risotto may not be a strictly British dish, it’s still a firm favourite for gastropubs across the land and often the go-to option for vegetarians when faced with a menu filled with roast dinners.
Not that Juniper’s menu lacks diversity. Ham hock terrine, a pistachio crusted rack of English lamb, Cornish fishermen’s stew, vegetable Thai green curry and beef Bourguignon, while a sign of the chef’s enviable skills in the kitchen, will also be a joy to repeat diners.
We finished the meal with a fiendishly delicious Malteaser parfait with homemade honeycomb. We didn’t exactly need a dessert after our gastronomic feast but I defy anyone to resist.
The food is sourced as locally as possible and all the dishes are made fresh in house, which is another reason to tuck in guilt-free.
And if you can tear your eyes away from your food for a few moments you will notice the walls are dotted by black and white photographs of Highbury landmarks, testament to its neighbourly outlook.
In fact its location away from the hubbub of the town centre means that it must mostly rely on friendly word of mouth from its customers. Its award for Best Menu from the London Restaurant Festival, hanging in pride of place on the wall, proves it obviously works.
British cuisine may sometimes get overlooked by its fancier bedfellows, but Juniper Dining shows how it should really be done.
– DAISY JESTICO
Mains: from �10.95 to �18.95
Wines: from �15 a bottle
Children welcome: Yes
Disabled access: Yes