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The Cuckoo N1 is Islington’s first “Gastro Hub”

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 March 2017

The Cuckoo N1

The Cuckoo N1

Archant

Garlic, white wine and Pavarotti on the juke box accompany Cucina Rustica’s residency at the Barnsbury venue

The Cuckoo N1 is a little off the beaten track – or at least as off the beaten track as you can go in the middle of Islington.

Calling themselves a “Gastro Hub” because they aim to be a gastronomic and social hotspot in the community, The Cuckoo shouldn’t be mistaken for a simple pub or restaurant. You can get all the trimmings you’d want from your local – the beers and the bar snacks – but there’s more on offer than a pint of cask ale.

There are bi-monthly workshops including life drawing and jewellery classes as well as supper clubs hosted by a different chef each time. In keeping with their aim of exploring different cuisines, kitchen residencies last for two months.

Following on from Caiger & Co’s takeover, this month’s is Cucina Rustica, whose head chef is Giorgio Fabian Honey, inspired by Italian / Sicilian street food and the tastes of his childhood.

He says: “My Nonno (grandfather) named his Italian restaurant after me and my twin brother and together alongside his brother’s half of the family they built a local empire of six restaurants, a hotel and even a nightclub when I was really young. So I guess hospitality is in my blood – cut me and I bleed passata sauce.”

Honey has worked as a pot washer in his uncle’s restaurants and as a head chef for “the high end restaurants where you are stuck in a kitchen with no windows, staring down thte barrel at 300 covers on a Saturday night and churning out 70 hours a week.

“So let’s just say I know my way around a kitchen!”

His menu includes such dishes as three cheese Arancini, chicken Milanese and doughnut gnocchi, and on the weekend he presents his own take on brunch and Sunday roast.

Trying to avoid the “gimmicky” and “try-hard” pop-ups that mix contrasting cuisines without concentrating on authentic food, “the food you eat at Cucina Rustica is the food you eat in Italy, end of.”

He has enjoyed working with The Cuckoo on his residency so far, enthused by their “willingness to immerse themselves in the ethos.

“Expect things like the smell of garlic and white wine hit you in the face as soon as walk through the door, the sound of Pavarotti on the juke box, aperitifs like Vecchia Romanga brandy and Limoncello behind the bar and of course proper Italian/Sicilian cooking with recipes handed down to me from generations.”

The Cucina Rustica residency continues until the end of April.

The Cuckoo N1, 115 Hemingford Road, N1 1BZ, thecuckoon1.co.uk

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