100 Islington: Elegantly crafted sharing plates influenced by Pan-Asian flavours
PUBLISHED: 12:30 07 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:42 07 September 2016
Emma Bartholomew tries out 100 Islington, the second venue from the super-talented chaps behind the successful smash-hit 100 Hoxton.
The eclectic tapas-style menu at 100 Islington is influenced by Asian and Middle-Eastern flavours, spices and ingredients.
And just like its Hackney counterpart, there is an emphasis on unique flavours, fresh food, healthy eating and creativity.
Chef Francis Puyat, from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi in the West End, has come up with a plethora of elegantly-crafted small sharing plates for the restaurant and bar in Upper Street, with a menu split into five sections – veggie, fish, meat, sides and desserts. If you arrive between 5pm and 7pm you can choose one option from each section for a very reasonable £30 to share between two.
Katsu tofu was a surprise favourite – an unusual mix of edamame beans, aubergine and enoki mushrooms. And the pork belly is an absolute must, with its crispy fat cooked to perfection and enhanced by accompanying papaya pickles.
Courgette and halloumi fritters are served with preserved lemon yoghurt. Their bhaji-style crispy outer case hides an unexpected but welcoming soft, gooey centre, while the smoky-flavoured celeriac salad with apple, fennel and pomegranate is a refreshing choice. Quinoa with date, pomegranate and avocado is a super-food healthy side dish with a great crunchy texture.
You are supposed to eat the whole of the Singapore soft shell chilli crab – exoskeleton and all. While this was quite a psychological challenge for my friend and me, it was eased somewhat by the delicious accompanying Thai flavours of peanut and lime.
Portions are very generous and after sharing all of the above, neither of us had any space left for dessert – something I now regret with choices like a plum clafoutis with amaretto agave cream or the mango, lemongrass and pine panna cotta.
It’s a change to come somewhere nowadays that’s not pushing the “cool East” concrete vibe, and there’s a bit of a Hamptons feel about it with white painted wood finish alongside colourful and eclectic Bauhaus-inspired painted tables in the booths at the back.