Friday, July 27, 2007

Frederick's - Diet-breaking amid Islington antiques

With an old-fashioned sign and an unassuming window revealing a darkened bar, Frederick’s is well camouflaged among the antique shops on a tiny Islington side street. So much so in fact, that we'd almost forgotten it existed and returned for the second time only this week - years after our first visit. Past the dark bar, you find yourself in an airy, conservatory-like dining room, with glass ceiling and white walls decorated with giant, brightly-coloured abstract canvases. The staff are numerous and friendly, but subjected to that irritating hierarchy where you ask one for something only for them to scuttle off in search of a colleague qualified to fulfil your request (eg take the order). The menu offers about a dozen choices of starters, in the slightly luxurious vein of modern European dining. My warm slab of foie gras was silky smooth gluttony on a plate. The mushroom tart with poached egg and hollandaise featured a good pile of flavoursome wild mushrooms, though to my taste they could have been a bit more generous with the sauce. The plate of scallops featured three juicy examples of the species, sat in their shells on a bed of potatoes - each with its own morsels of accompaniments: mushrooms, leeks and spinach. The carpaccio of beef was also good, and the dressing on the accompanying salad got particular praise from its eater. For mains, we succumbed to the day's special - a melt-in-the-mouth two-person portion of chateaubriand, with skinny crispy chips, home-made mayonnaise, béarnaise sauce and spinach. The diet will have to wait for another day, but it was well worth it! The other special, an open whole lobster, tasted as good as it looked. Personally I am not a big fan of fennel, so wasn't that keen on the wild halibut which included it, but the others liked it well enough. The beer selection was pretty good for a restaurant, including Leffe and various European lagers. From the wine list, both the sancerre and the house red got big thumbs up. Next time we will linger a bit longer, may be squeezing in a desert (I was sorely tempted to re-live childhood treats with a banana split!) and sampling some of the ports....

Frederick’s, 106 Camden Passage, Islington, N1 8EG; Tube: Angell; Tel: 020 7359 2888

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