First of all, I must sincerely apologise for the shocking lack of posts in the last two weeks. Planning R’s birthday present, meal and cake definitely took my (very) fickle mind a long time, but I was quite happy with how it all turned out. Will post about it sometime in the near future – I have a shocking backlog of posts like you would not believe. Eeep! This is precisely why I respect bloggers like Lorraine, she’s amazing and manages to find time to blog everyday – no easy feat, let me tell you.
But yes, let me stop rambling and introduce you to the yumminess of Upper Street. Now, I have to admit that I had never, ever eaten anywhere in Angel before this year. Shocking really, considering it’s actually not too far from where I’ve lived for.. well. Only five years. A friend who lived in the Highbury & Islington area was completely appalled by this, and thanks to her, I discovered some really interesting restaurants/cafes.
Fig & Olive is a pretty restaurant located halfway along Upper Street, which serves what they describe as “Modern European” cuisine. I’m a complete sucker for good decor, and Fig & Olive ticks all my boxes. Just look at those cool lamps!
[Please be forewarned that I could be making up the names of the following dishes as this meal took place quite a while ago.]
First up is the crabcake served on a bed of creamed spinach and mayo. I know crabcakes seem a tad boring, but this one was seriously good. The breadcrumbed exterior is beautifully crisp, and you are greeted with gooey crab goodness when you cut through it. The spinach (or what I remember to be spinach – please correct me if I’m mistaken) was a great pairing, as it had just the right amount of salt to complement the sweetness of crab meat.
The vodka flame grilled calamari salad is seriously good, and is one of my favourite ways to eat calamari. The salad itself is nothing special, but it’s worth a try for the calamari alone. There’s just the right amount of burnt-ness in the calamari, and although the you get a mild hint of the vodka, it’s by no means overwhelming.
The duck served with a cherry sauce and sauteed potatoes was interesting, but if I remember correctly – it was a little on the salty side. R felt that there were too many potatoes served on the side, and had to leave quite a bit behind.
The slow roasted pork leg with mash looked like a ridiculously huge dish, but in reality, there wasn’t too much meat on the bone (and I actually managed to clean my plate). Again, there may have been (possibly) too much mash, but I have never been one to say no to potatoes. Another thing to note that the sauce for this dish seemed remarkably similar to the sauce of the duck dish….
Fig & Olive does serve desserts, which are displayed beautifully by the entrance of the restaurant. However, we decided to not have dessert here as I had something else in mind…. cakes from Ottolenghi! This restaurant is serves simple yet delicious food with a Mediterranean influence. Now, I have never actually eaten the food at Ottolenghi as I have always been too hungry to wait it out in the long queues for a table, but I’ve had the cakes and pastries (taken away and slowly devoured at home), and I must say that they are absolutely gorgeous.
The pastries at Ottolenghi are displayed in the most beautiful fashion, with platters of delicious looking creations sitting atop colourful stools of varying heights. I didn’t manage to get a photo of the displays, but trust me when I say you’ll find it hard to not swoon if you’re a dessert lover such as myself. But it’s not just the way they display the desserts which has me constantly raving about Ottolenghi, it’s the yummy desserts….
Vanilla cupcake, topped with a vanilla bean frosting and some blueberries. The cupcake was light and fluffy, and I really enjoyed this. I also liked that the frosting was not overly ‘sickly’, which sometimes happens with some cupcake frostings.
Lemon semolina tart. I got this because I love polenta in cakes and muffins, and I figured that semolina would taste similar. I actually find that I prefer polenta to semolina when it comes to cakes as the texture of polenta is more evident (I hope that makes sense!). It doesn’t take anything away from this tart though, as it was very refreshing – a tad too much lemon sugar syrup over the top though.
Carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting. This was lovely – just the right amount of spices to balance out the sweetness of the carrots. I think they also used cardamom in their spice mix, which I’m not a huge fan of, so that meant the cake lost some of it’s appeal. The cream cheese frosting was awesome though.(which cream cheese frosting isn’t?)
Now this is where is gets tricky. I think this was a custard tart…. but I can’t say for sure. This is what happens when you buy too many desserts. I might have also semi-erased this from my mind as this was the pastry I liked the least. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t live up to my high expectations of Ottolenghi.
And whilst I’m on the subject of Ottolenghi, here are some photos of other sweet treats I’ve had here in the past: (I try something new everytime I go there, and they have such a wide selection that it’ll be a while before I revisit these)
Passionfruit custart tart, topped with a soft meringue frosting. Just look at this tart, it’s so beautiful that it was I knew I had to try it the moment I laid my eyes on it. How I wish I could pipe that well! The crumbly tart case is baked to perfection, and the passionfruit pips add texture to the soft meringue which is already delicious.
Lemon (I think) polenta cake, topped with a lovely simple sugar icing. This was the first time I had eaten polenta in a cake, and I fell in love almost instantly. I really enjoyed the textures in the cake, and I suspect there may have been some sort of ground nuts in it as well. This is a cake I would buy each time I visit Ottolenghi (unfortunately they didn’t have any the second time I dropped by, sniff).
Hazelnut meringue, with gooey caramel on the inside. I could not resist buying one of these giant meringues as they looked sooo inviting (I seriously think I have a problem). The meringue was beautifully crisp like how all meringues should be, with a great hazelnut aftertaste. The caramel slathered on the innards of the meringue was a pleasant surprise, but one I only enjoyed for a few mouthfuls as it got seriously too sweet (i.e. it hurt my teeth) after a while. Didn’t stop me from eating up the rest of the meringue though, I just left out the caramel-y bits.
So yes. These are two of my favourite places to eat in Islington, and I hope I’ve managed to convince you that they are worth a try if you happen to be in the area. If anyone has tried the (non-sweet) food at Ottolenghi, I would be very interested to hear what you think about it.
287 Upper Street
London N1 2TZ
Fig & Olive
151 Upper Street
London N1 1RA
020 7354 2605