Restaurant Review: The Blue Legume, N1

Jon Dean enjoys some home cooked fare in Islington

�Strolling along Upper Street I am constantly amazed by the sheer volume of little restaurants and corner cafes.

Choosing which one to eat in is no simple task and for the proprietor standing out from the crowd must also be no mean feat.

But if a cosy spot with home-cooked food is high on your dining agenda, The Blue Legume should definitely be on your hit list.

Owner and chef Murat has been quietly building his venture and has now opened a successful second branch in Stoke Newington.

But the original has its own vibe – and its own menu – so it was there we headed to see what the place has to offer.

The decor is minimal but cosy, bare brickwork is adorned with ornaments and is currently home to an exhibition of mosaics from local artist Naomie Selig.

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My other initial impression was the friendliness of the staff – our waiter was happy to rearrange tables so we could sit where we wanted and was quick to offer insightful recommendations from the menu.

After a plate of tangy olives and a glass of Chilean red, we got down to business.

The Blue Legume’s menu is extensive, with a whole host of starters, meat, fish, burgers, sandwiches and risottos – as well as a full breakfast menu.

The smoked salmon with asparagus was an attractive opener which proved to be light and balanced, and a great way to get our mouths watering.

In contrast, though equally tasty, was the grilled hallioumi and chorizio – dense and toothsome. Our portion was the right size to make this a pleasure rather than overpowering.

A meat and fish theme also pervaded our main course. The rib eye steak lived up to its billing as that most tasty of cuts, even without the accompanying pot of keen peppercorn sauce.

It was a touch fatty though, and the unimaginative sides of chunky chips and grilled tomato were slightly underwhelming.

Much more inventive was the trio – a plate of salmon, tuna and cod with a sumptuous white wine, cream and tomato sauce served with buttery mashed potato, all cooked to perfection.

Though the dessert menu was plentiful, our eyes were drawn to a glass cabinet displaying a selection of delicious looking sweets. We asked for a slice of the home-made cheesecake and out it came – plump, moist and fragrant.

The Blue Legume has a lot going for it – pleasant surroundings, amiable staff and plenty of enticing and reasonably priced dishes.

Next time you find yourself daunted by the culinary choice on that salubrious strip of Upper Street, do yourself a favour and pop straight in.