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Food in Finsbury


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How do we feel about Finsbury?

I had a phenomenal meal at the Ambassador, Exmouth Market last night.

Crab and baby spinach salad starter. Then braised pork with gnocchi and morel sauce. Utterly superb. Sadly, I drank far too much of an excellent and reasonably priced CdR to do a proper review.

I don't think it's been open long and it's in one of those cursed locations that seems to open and go bust at weekly intervals but if my drink-addled recollection is worth anything we should all flock there to make sure it succeeds.

Has anyone else had any experience of this place? Is it really as good as I think or has this hangover destroyed my judgement?

What else is good in the area?

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Have just moved to Finsbury and am on the look-out for tips in the King's Cross, Angel, Clerkenwell and Finsbury areas. The three food highlights of the area for me so far have been:

1) Chapel Street market in Angel - one of the best street markets I've been in to in London, or anywhere else in the UK for that matter, as it has good fruit and vegetables at excellent prices. Top deals of the moment include pretty good asparagus at £1.20 a bunch, giant bags of rocket at 80p, and ten, sweet and seedless oranges for a quid. There's also a good French cheese stall (seems to be the same outfit that also have a stall in Portobello Road) with epoisses etc. at decent prices and in good condition.

2. Olga, the Italian deli, just round the corner from Chapel Street, which has excellent ricotta, decent fresh pasta-sauces (very much enjoyed their arrabiata which was £2.25) and my vice of the moment: San Pellegrino lemonade.

3. The Eagle. I know it's been much-discussed, but I think it's a real credit to the owners and staff that standards are so high there even years after the whole 'first gastro-pub' hype. Enjoyed their Eagle lager for the first time last week.

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Has anyone else had any experience of this place? Is it really as good as I think or has this hangover destroyed my judgement?

tim's taste and discrimination shine through even the onslaught of the vino - went last night and agree, it was truly excellent. ravishing rabbit and fennel ravioli.

mx

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As quoted above...The Eagle stands out for me as well. On the culinary map I'm not sure where the boundaries of Finsbury start and stop based on food and drink establishments.

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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As quoted above...The Eagle stands out for me as well. On the culinary map I'm not sure where the boundaries of Finsbury start and stop based on food and drink establishments.

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver

Finsbury was one of the old London boroughs, abolished in the 1960s, and included most of Islington south of the Angel (i.e. what's now the wards of Bunhill and Clerkenwell), the upper part of the City (from Charterhouse Square down to Moorgate) and the parts of Hackney around Old Street.

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I'd also like to commend the ambassador. Attractive winelist (including decent selections by the 1/2 litre).

For the record drank good chianti and a pleasurably forceful Pic St. Loup.

A kitchen I am happy to trust: squid & pigs cheek stew (with tomato, beans and some heat) + perfectly cooked onglet (charred then rested) - served on a bed of chard w. a bone marrow gremolata.

Good cheese course - brebis de puy, salers de bubo (I might have that slightly wrong) and a roquefort in decent nick and generous quantity.

Wilma squawks no more

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For the record, we had a distinctly underwhelming lunch at the Ambassador on Saturday. Full of expectations (and hangover), ordered a jug of bloody Mary which didn't disappoint. However, there wasn't really a lunch menu as such - more a mix of breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Ordered a selection of starters - pretty good chicken rillettes which were a reasonable £3.50 for the bar snack portion, excellently dressed endive salad and "purple sprouting broccoli", advertised as a side dish but which we wanted as a starter. Disappointingly it was just tenderstem broccoli, brought with no explanation. My main was a fish stew - very subtle fennel addition and some good mussels but slightly insipid salmon and haddock; no sign of the cod the waitress mentioned when I asked what was in it. Husband chose from the brunch menu pancakes with bacon and maple syrup - pancake so stodgy we could have propped the table up on it, and only a child's portion of bacon. Left feeling that we wouldn't make another special visit - only if we happened to be in the area, and then only for dinner not lunch.

Such a shame - really wanted to like it. Maybe it was just because it was Easter Saturday? Didn't help that it was completely empty and the hard formica tables amplified our quietest mutterings! Look forward to hearing more reports.

S

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another trip to the Eagle, which has become our local favourite on the basis that: 1) the food is always good, 2) the prices are reasonable, 3) the atmosphere is conducive to sitting around chatting and drinking for a few hours, 4) if we go there often enough, we will eventually be sat next to some celebs (saw Tara P-T just up the road recently!). Had an generous portion of escalivades, which came with some great aioli, a plate of taleggio and figs, and a honey-ish red from Penedes. I suppose the one down-side of the place is that some of the staff are slightly snotty, but the up-side is that I do now know how to pronounce taleggio....

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Am intrigued by the Ambassadors. What did it used to be? What's it next to?

Opposite side to Moro. A few doors to the East of Cafe Kick. That should be accurate enough - what are you planning? An air strike?

I think its last two incarnations were a sub Pizza Express, 'white emulsion and posters' pizzeria followed closely by a 'we've run a kebab empire for a decade, surely it's time to take Middle Eastern street food up-market' mezze joint.

If there's a restaurant equivalent of 'Dead Man Walking' they were it.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Am intrigued by the Ambassadors. What did it used to be? What's it next to?

Opposite side to Moro. A few doors to the East of Cafe Kick. That should be accurate enough - what are you planning? An air strike?

LOL. No, I live near there and I was trying to work out which restaurant it had replaced. Without actually having to get up off my fat arse and go there.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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LOL. No, I live near there and I was trying to work out which restaurant it had replaced. Without actually having to get up off my fat arse and go there.

Aaah yes. I too live my life in a ceaseless and uneasy conflict between gluttony and idleness.

Right now I'm trying to decide between slouching toward the refrigerator to construct an enormous sandwich of leftover lamb or just lying here trying to detect a heartbeat in my furred arteries.

:unsure:

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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  • 4 weeks later...

Very enjoyable meal at the Ambassador last night - the squid and pig cheek casserole that Gavin had, braised veal belly for main then cheese all waashed down with a 1996 Brunello at a reasonable £38. Earthy and flavoursome - reminded me of a more formal presentation of the food at Anchor & Hope, though they manage somehow to maintain a cafe atmosphere (perhaps it's the round tables). My latest favourite place.

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  • 5 months later...

Not sure if this has been discussed on another thread, but a nice little food market is now operating on Exmouth Market on Fridays and Saturdays. It's compact and mainly aimed at foodies, with a number of stalls obviously emanating from shops on Exmouth Market. Plenty of cakes, breads (De Gustibus amongst others), a veg stall, a wild mushroom stall (nice-looking stuff if nose-bleedingly priced; yet to try the winter chanterelles I bought there at £3 per 100g), a Vietnamese coffee stall and an intriguing Italian stall selling a mixture of cheeses and patisserie. I tried a raspberry macaroon from the stall which was absolutely sensational - clean, rich and deep in flavour - and will report back on the lemon, mint and vanilla macaroons sitting in my kitchen. If the others are as good as the raspberry, then I'd say they're a hell of a lot better and cheaper than the Laduree ones at Harrods, though the packaging isn't so cute.

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