Oldroyd review: “Dining out on grown-up comfort food”

Oldroyd's upstairs dining room

Oldroyd's upstairs dining room - Credit: Archant

“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.

Oldroyd autumn dish

Oldroyd autumn dish - Credit: Archant

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.

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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.

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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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