For lunch on a lazy Saturday was at Almeida, a French restaurant, near Islington tube.
It's located in a nice area, where there are alot of funky, independent shops around the area.
Inside, it's decorated in a tasteful, modern way. Not unlike many other places of the same ilk.
For starters, the Lawyer went for the smoked salmon blini with dill cream cheese. This was a pretty decent serving of smoked salmon. We had expected the blini to be plural - that is, many little blinis. Instead, it was one mega blini. It was about the size of a scone. Despite the size, it was still good - a light, fluffy texture. A bit too much cream cheese, but that's just a personal preference.
As for moi, I ordered the roasted pumpkin veloute with chestnuts. I was keen to try chestnuts in a savoury dish. I've only had them boiled/roasted and eaten as a snack or as a sweetened puree to be used in a cake or meringue. The mild nuttiness flavour and smooth texture of the chestnuts worked with the sweetness of the pumpkin. Presentation wise, it could have done with a bit of a green garnish.
On to the mains, the Lawyer ordered the slow roasted pork belly with greens and carrot mash. Like the soup, the presentation was kinda lacking...many shades of brown...or a plate of baby's poop. Tastewise, it was fine. The pork was tender, and the green vegs were fine. I like the idea of mash that is made from vegetables other than potatoes, but I wasn't sure why they picked carrot, given (a) the colour/presentation and (b) it didn't particularly enhance the flavour or texture of the dish...perhaps a surplus of carrots in the kitchen?
I got the mushroom risotto w truffle oil. Earthy, meaty flavour - this was the better dish. There were generous slices of pan fried chestnut mushrooms and al dente rice. The risotto wasn't too stodgy or rich. The cress was a nice peppery accent to the dish.
Almeida is a nice restuarant. Nice food, nice service, nice decor, a nice time, but it didn't make enough of an impression for me to come back. Although it is supposed to be a French restaurant, I didn't really get a sense that was a French restaurant in terms of the food or decor.
Postscript...after posting the photos of the dishes, I realised just how brown everything was - the mid-brown blini, the mustard yellow soup and chestnuts, that uninspiring-looking pork, gravy and carrot thing, and the dark brown risotto w the mushrooms. Almeida needs a lesson in colour and presentation!
30 Almeida St
Islington N1 1
Telephone: (020) 7354 4777