Thursday, 6 September 2012

Equation Islington Upper Street French restaurant - exuding chicness


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Address: 330 Upper Street
London N1 2XQ
Tel: 020 7226 5098
Nearest Tube station: Angel

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £20 pp
Service charge: N/A
Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
One thing about restaurant discount vouchers is that once people get used to it, there's no way they'd be back without using a voucher. Let's be honest, when was the last time you've been to Pizza Express without waving your Tastecard?

That was exactly what happened to Fine Burger. There used to be this chap distributing its two for one vouchers outside Islington Business Centre. I did give it a go once. Its burgers weren't anything to shout about. Even so, they were a steal at half price. But I guess a burger joint isn't sustainable when everyone is having 50% off. After struggling for a bit more, it finally closed down and the chap with the vouchers lost his job. The burgers at Fine Burger weren't so fine after all.

I can't seem to figure out the restaurant that has replaced Fine Burger since. With a name like Equation, you would expect something brainy going on in the kitchen and a free starter if you can recall the 12th decimal of pi. Well, something along that line. Sorry to disappoint the geeks out there, Equation turns out to be a rather neat little French restaurant.

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It's not difficult to crack the dining scene in Islington. There's something magical about a tenner, below which is considered a good deal provided the customer doesn't end up with good poisoning. In this respect, Cote seems to have nailed it. Offering two courses for £9.95 for orders before 7pm, the place is packed to the brim every single weekday.

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Equation is getting warm up to the idea. A propped up board along the sidewalk advertises Moules with a bottle of Belgian beer for £10. The lone French Audrey Tautou look alike waitress prompted pointed that out to us when we settled down before setting a small serving of truffle popcorn on the table.

While frantically popping the addictive popcorn into our mouths, there was a mutual consent that it would silly to have two huge bowls of mussels on the table so I went for a seabass fillet with mild curry (£12.95) instead.

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I half expected a small slab of fish swimming in curry. Instead, It turned out to be a nicely pan fried fillet laid on a smear of curry, which could easily be mistaken for a careless spill of olive oil. It was simply presented, definitely less fancy than Assiette Anglaise along Liverpool Road. The sprinkle of sea salt on the slightly crisped sea bass skin went extremely well with the hint of spice in the creamy curry. Enough said.

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Wife was more taken by her Hoegaarden than her mussels. You can't go wrong with fresh mussels really so there's simply no upside to that. She was a tad disappointed that the "French fries" turned out to be heavily salted crinkled cut chips likely to arrive in the kitchen in huge frozen packs.

We were the only customers there for the entire time. It's not there's no interest; sitting directly opposite Islington's Screen on the Green means that there's loads of people walking by Equation, many of whom do pause to check out its menu. Meat People along Essex Road would kill to have Equation's location. They can only blame it on Fine Burger not closing earlier.

None of those menu inspectors stepped in for lunch. My guess is that Equation, with its chic decor, looks more like a dinner place. Not somewhere you'd stop by for a leisure lunch, definitely not with the sun in your eyes (it faces the west). Either that or they need to expand their £10 menu.




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