The Canonbury Kitchen

A useful neighbourhood Italian a million miles away from the franchise horror of Angel...

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The stretch of Islington south of the Union Chapel and north of the Green has held on to its reputation for independent interior design shops and yummy mummy boutiques, despite the chain-store and franchise-restaurant Armageddon that’s taken place around the Angel… Central N1 can often feel like somewhere with 1,000 places to eat, but nowhere to go.

Sitting as a nice (Italian) counter-balance to the French Montmartre close by, the Canonbury Kitchen is a bright, casual Italian that's set to become a neighbourhood godsend for can’t-be-arsed-to-cook evenings and spur of the moment weekend lunches with a few glasses of Prosecco. The room is text-book north London contemporary with bare brick, fresh blonde wood and a couple of weathered textures for luck. And it offers that surprisingly rare quality for a restaurant: it’s useful.

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On ELLEuk’s visit we had an excellent sea scallop starter with garlic wild mushrooms followed by a primi of orecchiette with beef and Chianti ragu. While the latter was cooked perfectly, full chunks of meat (of the going-to-need-a-toothpick variety) can be a bit off-putting with a pasta dish. We also had spaghetti with octopus and olive dish, which was better, and certainly worth revisiting. Of the secondi (they don’t use Italian terms on the menu, but the lovely waiters do say “prego” when you thank them for a dish arriving), the highlight was tagliata of Scottish steak with rocket and parmesan. This was an absolutely wonderful version of it: perfect steak, tender and moist, sliced up and chargrilled with tasty peelings of Parmesan.

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Elsewhere on the menu there are fish, lamb and veal dishes for mains, and some rather essential deep-fried courgettes on the sides list. The wine list is short but covers the Italian classics and hovers around the mid-£20 mark, which is fair enough, although they’d run out of their one single rosé on our visit.

Dessert was a gem: where most restaurants advertise a pannacotta promising all manner of flavours, when in fact they’re just talking a compote on the side, the chocolate and Amaretto one at Canonbury was blended into the cream. It was a little on the unset side, but you could still quite happily have eaten a bucket of it. Heaven.

The Canonbury Kitchen is less fancy than nearby Trullo, but more modern than other Chianti-bottle festooned local trattorias. We predict it will become a much-loved, long-standing neighbourhood favourite.

The ELLEuk Score

Food: 7

Ambience: 6

Service: 8

Value: 9

Address: 19 Canonbury Lane, Islington, London N1 2AS

Opening times: 12pm-4pm Sat-Sun; 6pm-11pm Tue-Sat

Good for: Quick bite after work; pre theatre; first date; group dinner; work lunch/dinner

Style of food: Italian

Prices and Other Details at the Canonbury Kitchen

Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £23

Set menu: None

Price of bottle of house wine: £17.50, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC 2010, Caldora (white); £16.50, San Giovese, La Berta, Umbria (red).

Price of glass of house wine: £5, as above.

Price of glass of house champagne: None - Prosecco di Valdobbiadene available, £7.

Price of bottle of house champagne: £44.50, Couve de Reserve Bruto, Roger Pouillon (Prosecco available, £25.50 per bottle)

Private dining? No

Garden/al fresco dining: No

Bar? No

Best table? The tables closest to the kitchen have the least foot traffic.

Who goes? North London media types, Upper Street shoppers and families.

Nearest tube: Highbury & Islington

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