John Gregory-Smith went to Islington to discover his favourite new restaurant, Oldroyd
We arrived at Oldroyd on a warm summers evening and wiggled our way past the tiny kitchen and upstairs to the compact dining room. It was heaving, every table laden with grub and grinning diners. We took a seat in the corner and ordered white peach and crémant bellinis whilst we surveyed the menu.
Oldroyds, on Upper Street, is the first restaurant from Tom Oldroyd, a smart young chef, who was the chef director at Polpo restaurants when they opened in Soho. Russell’s Venetian vision has obviously rubbed off on Tom and little touches like the low slung net curtains over the windows, superlative staff and a tight menu of small plates all between £4-15 where all too familiar. But Tom has found his groove and the menu has a different feel and by the end of the meal we felt like we were definitely in his place.
We started off with a small plate of crispy smoked pork belly croquettes (£4), gloriously golden and bursting with rich meat and fresh summer peas. Lamb and almond meatballs (£7.50) were wonderfully textured and doused in a cracking romesco sauce. There was a subtle hint of lemon and a tangy twist from little shards of pickled garlic that brought it to life.
Bright pink Sicilian prawns, bursting with sweet juices, were cooked with lemon, garlic and chilli that hummed in my mouth as I licked my fingers clean. Vibrant yellow whips of crab tagliarini (£9) were showered in fresh basil, chervil and fennel tops.
There are a few larger dishes on the menu and we chose the roasted monkfish (£15) . The smell of olives greeted us as we were presented with a beautifully cooked monkfish tail that was covered in a back olive tapenade, capers and basil, which all nestled into a bed of fennel braised with tomato, rosemary and olive oil. Each mouthful was a reminder of how fabulous good food can be.
Despite being achingly full, we managed desserts. A stone fruit and brioche pain perdu (£6), a bread pudding of sorts, was too dry, but the chocolate mousse (£6) was rocking. A splat of velvety soft mousse had a lovley thick texture, which is how i prefer this dessert, and a cripsy salted pistachio praline.
Tom has done a stunning job making Oldroyd restaurant shine with an exciting menu, lovely staff and a relaxed atmosphere that makes you want to never leave.
Oldroyd, 344 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0PD