Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Brasserie review Islington Upper Street - crackling made my day


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Address: 170 Upper Street,
London N1 1RG
Tel: 020 7288 9222
Nearest Tube station:
Highbury & Islington

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below £15pp
Service charge: 10%
Taste: ***
Service: ***
Ambience: ***
It wasn’t meant to be. We were on our way to The Blue Legume for breakfast. Not that we especially adore Blue Legume but it’s definitely the place to go with a little one tagging along. Besides, you’d hard pressed to find a decent place that’s open for breakfast on a Saturday. Wife pointed out that Cote Brasserie is opening up a branch just beside Slug & Lettuce. But that wouldn’t be open till the end of the year. Since Cote Brasserie has apparently signed a 20 year lease for the shop, there’s no hurry to really.

We walked past Pizza Hut along Upper Street towards Blue Legume and would have missed The Brasserie if not for a two guys sat sprawling on the one of the two tables laid outside The Brasserie. We stopped to peer at the menu on the wall. “Have one,” one of the guy handed a menu to me. We felt obliged to step in thereafter. Well, we were in the mood to try something new anyway.

There was only a mother in the restaurant, unless you consider her baby/toddler who was busy slugging scrambled eggs all over. Upon seeing LO, the staff quickly offered a sturdy highchair. I just love it when there’s another child in the restaurant. At least there would be someone to occupy LO while we gobble down our food.

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The light music playing in the background put us in a better mood already. Nothing really stood out in The Brasserie’s menu so I went for the obvious option. Its English Breakfast (£8.90) wasn’t exactly the cheapest along Upper Street but it was definitely one of the better ones that I have come across. Its description on the menu gave little away – “Scrambled eggs, Cumberland sausages, streaky bacon, grilled tomato, field mushroom, toasted sourdough bread” it said. Two items stood out immediately – its streaky bacon and scrambled eggs. The bacon was nothing like the hard crunchy frauds but soft and juicy with, hold on for it, fine crackling skin. Yes, I’m a sucker for pork crackling (see Birley Sandwich). The scrambled eggs was mushy but soft enough to be spread on the sourdough bread. That easily rivaled Ottolenghi’s.

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Wife’s choice was smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (£6.50) that came on top of a slice of sourdough bread. After its streaky bacon, The Brasserie’s smoked salmon was underwhelming. I thought they came through a bit too salty and heavy. I would be better off going for the same at Ottolenghi for a few more quid.

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I thought that The Brasserie, with a name that can hardly be accused of being original, is a new kid on the block. The mother (yes, the only other customer in the restaurant) checked with the staff just before we arrived. Apparently, it has always been there wrenched between Pizza Hut and Workers’ Café and it just didn’t stand out. The owner recently revamped the place, which apparently made it more noticeable. I can’t help but think that The Brasserie is a bit out of place and would do better if it’s located closer to Angel Tube station. But who knows? It may sell more weekend brunches when word gets around. Oh, do try its streaky bacon.

The Brasserie on Urbanspoon


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