Islington’s Upper Street, for some reason, lacks brilliant restaurants. There are plenty of decent places to eat but few outstanding restaurants. (Until now, if you wanted a truly memorable meal in the borough, you probably needed to head to Moro in Exmouth Market or to Trullo near Highbury and Islington station). Tom Oldroyd, the former head chef at Polpo, has changed that by opening his own place. It is tiny (40 covers) and slightly ramshackle in appearance but the food is outstanding. Not surprisingly, Oldroyd shares a similar aesthetic to Polpo, as well as the principle of small plates of delicious food.
We visited during a busy Sunday lunchtime and watched dozens of people turned away and no wonder: they had obviously heard how good the peach & goats curd panzanella is. At Oldroyd they normally make this salad with cow’s curd but it’s the kind of place where they tell you about any tweaks to ingredients when you first sit down. It’s also the sort of restaurant where the head chef will bring some of the dishes to the table himself. Everything we ate — from the plate of different radishes with smoked cod’s roe to the bacon and egg tagliarini — was first rate.
You could very happily while away the afternoon at Oldroyd and we were sorely tempted to stay for cocktails, not least because the award-winning Ryan Chetiyawardana has created both a Bloody Mary and a Negroni for the restaurant. We’ll be back, if we can get a table.