Almeida Restaurant, Islington

Once upon a time the Almeida restaurant was just a place to have a bite to eat pre or post a theatre performance. Now the restaurant very much has its own personality and style; located across the road from the famous theatre, it is a destination in its own right popular with both theatre-goers and foodie locals.

The light dining room is welcoming and comfortable, we sat at a pleasant window seat and watched the restaurant fill up as the night progressed. Some will recognise head chef Tommy Boland from his cameo appearance in Celebrity Masterchef. Tommy has a clear and creative vision for the Almeida producing impressive plates of food using the finest flavours and classic cooking techniques.

We were very well looked after by the kitchen and the friendly team of waiters who offered us endless extras ‘from the chef’. It was a hot day and I felt like something light and vibrant, the English Heritage Tomatoes Salad was the ideal option. Tommy proudly mentioned that the tomatoes were British, but just as sweet as the produce from Europe. The salad was immaculate adorned with stracciatella, nocellara olives and an accompanying fluffy piece of focaccia with olive oil. My dinner date opted for Roasted Isle Orkney Scallops with peas, girolles, leek fondue and aged parmesan, after seeing a similar recipe on a Masterchef episode! The plate was beautiful, a careful arrangement with each component cooked perfectly. Starters were an absolute hit, and were cleverly paired with a refreshing French Sauvignon blanc and an exotic Chardonnay from Southern California.

For main course, we selected the Glazed Pork Cutlet and Roasted New Season’s Lamb. Both dishes were a hefty size, too much to finish. The lamb presentation was stylish and sophisticated, the meat served in an intensely flavoured sauce and paired with a range of vegetables. The crispy artichokes were a lovely addition though I found the taste of the semi dried tomatoes a bit overpowering. The pork was a little overcooked and dry but was paired with delicious sweet peaches and summery vegetable slaw. The sauce was sticky and tasty, but the meat needed more of it.

I was excited to spot soufflé on the dessert menu, apricot flavoured with a citrusy lemon verbena ice-cream. We also tried the decadent chocolate moelleux sundae with whipped salt caramel, vanilla ice-cream and tonka bean. Soufflés are notoriously difficult to perfect but this rendition was faultless, light and airy, creamy and smooth with a hint of apricot. The chocolate pudding was presented in a circular glass bowl, delicately arranged and utterly delicious.

The Almeida has truly proved itself as a restaurant worth travelling to, I was very impressed by the high quality of food and service.

More information and book a table at Almeida restaurant here.

All photos taken on my Olympus PEN E-PL7.

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