Seven top Islington restaurants classed amongst the best in the UK

Trullo offers unfussy Italian cooking in a homely upstairs room or downstairs bar

Trullo offers unfussy Italian cooking in a homely upstairs room or downstairs bar - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

Seven restaurants in Islington are considered to be amongst the best 100 in the whole of the UK.

The venues received the accolades at the National Restaurant Awards in 2019, having been voted for by a panel of more than 200 experts drawn from across the industry, including food writers, chefs and restaurateurs.

A new list of the UK's current top 100 restaurants will be announced on August 16, as part of the National Restaurants Awards 2021. 

We take a look at the Islington restaurants here:

Hicce in Coal's Drop Yard, Islington

Hicce in Coal's Drop Yard, Islington - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

Hicce


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102, Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, N1C 4DQ

Hicce (pronounced ee-che) was dreamed up by friends Pip Lacey and Gordy McIntyre on a ski season in 2001, but only opened its doors in 2018. Lacey made her name appearing on the BBC's Great British Menu and as head chef at Angela Hartnett’s two Michelin-starred Murano, while McIntyre has overseen front of house at numerous London restaurants.

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They’ve teamed up to open Hicce in a warehouse previously home to the infamous Bagley’s nightclub in King’s Cross, though nowadays it’s a light-filled space with big windows overlooking the Coal Drop’s yard development.

Holborn Dining Room is set in Rosewood Hotel's elegant, chandelier-decked space 

Holborn Dining Room is set in Rosewood Hotel's elegant, chandelier-decked space - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

Holborn Dining Room 

252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN

Calum Franklin’s pastry prowess has made him a full blown Instagram sensation and the go-to pie man for newspapers and glossy food magazines. People travel from all over the world to visit Holborn Dining Room – a grand British brasserie at The Rosewood Hotel – where the head chef’s pies are given star billing on the menu and are even available to take away from an atmospheric pie room that belongs in a Dickens novel.

Golden, flaky crusts are teased into intricate pleats and patterns, while the fillings are rich and satisfying. Curried mutton and chicken, girolle and tarragon are popular, but it’s the classic pork pie, made with smoked bacon, fennel and sage that’s hardest to resist.

Former St John chef Lee Tiernan serves up edgy yet delicious food at Black Axe Mangal in Canonbury Road

Former St John chef Lee Tiernan serves up edgy yet delicious food at Black Axe Mangal in Canonbury Road - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

Black Axe Mangal 

156 Canonbury Road, N1 2UP

Taking loose inspiration from Turkish grill houses (although there’s a mash up of other influences at work here), chef Lee Tiernan revels in amped-up flavours that leave your senses reeling. Smoke, spice and meat are cornerstones of Tiernan’s cooking.

There are grilled hearts smeared with fermented black bean, flame-grilled dexter beef given a blast of sour heat from pickled chillies and a glistening pile of oxtail and bone marrow laksa. It’s all gloriously messy fun.

Whitewashed ex-smokehouse where Fergus Henderson pioneered the resurgent interest in offal dishes

St John Restaurant: Whitewashed ex-smokehouse where Fergus Henderson pioneered the resurgent interest in offal dishes - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

St John Restaurant

26 St John Street, Barbican, EC1M 4AY 

In today’s fickle restaurant world, where fads come and go, few can lay claim to being truly iconic – but Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver’s St John is one that can.

For the past 25 years Henderson’s nose-to-tail approach to cooking has helped raise the profile of British food across the world, as well as teach a legion of chefs about how to respect the whole animal and reduce food waste – themes that are even more pressing today than they were when St John opened in 1994. And he’s done it with a rather simple but focused outlook that doesn’t preach but merely leads by example.

European dishes with inventive twists headline at Perilla, a modern, easy-going venue with large windows

European dishes with inventive twists headline at Perilla, a modern, easy-going venue with large windows - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

Perilla

1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, N16 9BS

On the site of a former kid’s café, Perilla serves creatively offbeat dishes (its £44 tasting menu currently kicks off with yesterday’s bread soaked in moules mariniére).

The beautifully-designed space is flooded with natural light and is on the grown up side of hip with pendant lighting, a mix of marble and wooden tables and some distressed elements, like a characterful bare brick wall behind the bar.

On the very southern end of Green Lanes near Newington Green, the restaurant was launched in 2016 by former The Square chef Ben Marks and Polpo front-of-house man Matt Emmerson (the former’s mentor Phil Howard is one of a number of high profile backers).

Trullo offers unfussy Italian cooking in a homely upstairs room or downstairs bar

Trullo offers unfussy Italian cooking in a homely upstairs room or downstairs bar - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

Trullo

300-302, St Paul's Road, Canonbury, N1 2LH

Good ingredients, lovely service and reasonable prices are hardly a revolutionary business formula, but simplicity is often the first casualty of a new restaurant concept.

Trullo’s back-to-basics approach has helped inspire a spate of stripped-back new-wave Italian restaurants in the capital in recent years, not least fresh pasta joint Padella, set up by Trullo’s owners in 2016.

The original restaurant has stuck resolutely to its principles in the intervening years, and is not surprisingly still packing them in. Chef Tim Siadatan uses his previous experiences at Fifteen, St John and Moro to good effect, resisting the temptation to mess about too much with ultra fresh British produce in order to create Italian dishes that are full of flavour.

The Quality Chop House is a 19th-century working man's 'eating house' revamped as a Modern British dining room and wine bar

The Quality Chop House is a 19th-century working man's 'eating house' revamped as a Modern British dining room and wine bar - Credit: National Restaurant Awards

The Quality Chop House

88-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA

The Quality Chop House of today was opened in 2012 but the site on London’s Farringdon Road has been home to a restaurant since 1869. And it feels it: the Grade-II listed Victorian décor and church pew style seating don’t exactly scream comfort and modernity.

But then you don’t go to The Quality Chop House if you want to lounge around in soft furnishings amid low-hanging lightbulbs – you come for chef Shaun Searley’s modern and innovative cooking, not to mention the restaurant’s legendary chops.

Despite being open less than a decade (in its current form, at least), The Quality Chop House already feels like a London restaurant institution, such is Searley’s seemingly effortless ability to put together a menu that is so satisfying.

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