There's a pleasantly old-fashioned vibe at Stoke Newington's Fifty Six, with deep fried cheese and roasts on the menu, and the friendly waitress joking with the local regulars. We arrive at about 5pm, for a late lunch/early dinner (dinch? lunner?), and find a good people-watching spot in the window. Judging by the other visitors, this funny mealtime suits families with young kids, whom the main waitress (owner?) makes feel very welcome.
Bread (of a rather dull, thinly sliced white variety) and a bowl of nice, herby olives arrive with the menus.
I start, retro-fashion, with deep fried cheese fritters -- a triangle of oozing brie, and a rectangle of stringy (in a good, melted cheese way) mozzarella, served with a crisp salad and some cranberry jelly on the side (£4).
The husband has moules mariniere (£5.50), and I like the sauce a lot, helping myself
to a slice of dunked bread's worth.
For 'mains', we choose two more starters. The duck salad from the specials board (£6) features tender, pink, smoky slices of duck. The only blot is the slightly pointless smattering of grated white cheese, too cold to taste of much, on top of the meat.
The cheddar, leek and potato cakes (£4) work well with the accompanying yoghurt, perhaps a nod to the Turkish culture of the area.
A half bottle of chablis (£12, or we could have had the house wine for a similar price) completes the meal at under £35, including service. It's not destination dining, of course, but well worth a try if you happen to be local.
It's the first time I've been up here, and I really like the area. It has a pleasant, neighbourly vibe, and there are plenty of other nice-looking eateries. Shame about the transport links though, which are pretty much limited to lengthy bus journeys.
Fifty Six, 56 Newington Green, N16 9PX; Tel. 0207 359 6377; Transport: buses or overground to Canonbury Rail; www.fifty-six.co.uk