Test Drives

breadSeaweed bread brushed with roasted lamb fat

So what do we need to know about Perilla?

Perilla started life as a supperclub, moved into a pop-up and residency and from there has progressed to a full-blown restaurant. But what makes this stand out from the crowd are the people involved. Head Chef Ben Marks has the likes of Noma, Claridges and The Square on his CV, while front of houe manager Matt Emmerson comes here via Polpo and Polpetto. They've also got some serious backers - Phil Howard of Elystan Street and Café Royal MD Thomas Kochs and Martyn Nail, executive chef of Claridge’s.

And where is it?

On the North Eastern corner of Newington Green - locals will know it as the site where family-friendly spot That Place on the Corner used to be. The nearest station is Canonbury on the Overground line.

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

You're not short of decent places around here. There's natural wine bar Yield a few doors down, Newington Table across the green does great cocktails and there's a new bar about to open downstairs at Trangallan. If it's a pub you're after, we're pretty fond of The Cellars on Newington Green Road.

kaleRoasted kale with cod's roe

Where should I sit?

Larger groups should book ahead to get the long table in front of the bar, otherwise the light and airy corner site means that there isn't really a duff table here.

And the food?

We went for lunch on a Saturday when the menu options were a la carte or a truncated tasting menu of 4 courses for £25 - and five for £38 in the evening. You can add a cheese course on, before or after dessert, for a fiver. Obviously, the menu is going to change, but if you're going in the first few weeks you may well have some of the dishes we enjoyed. Certainly, the seaweed bread brushed with roasted lamb fat should be what your meal kicks off with - served up with gorgeous whipped butter that you could happily eat with a spoon.

pulmaPluma of pork with sauerkraut

If there was an underlying theme to our lunch, it was cabbage - it popped up in various guises from a delicate kale puff topped with dots of cod's roe as amuse bouche to the sauerkraut underpinning the gorgeous slices of grilled pluma in our main course. Our meal was heavy on the greens, which made it a perfect light lunch.

Dessert looked (and tasted great) - a shallow bowl of deeply yellow walnut custard topped with peeled sultana grapes. Really quite beautiful and delicate.

What's to drink?

The wine list of some 20-something bottles ranges in price from £23 to £52 for a bottle. We loved the fact that (as we remembered from Polpo) the wines are served in a 250m pot, making their house wines at £8 for a pot, very good value. Given the restaurant's situation on Green Lanes it's lovely to see a Turkish wine on the menu - and this one from Kaynaklar was a soft fruity red, great for daytime drinking.

custardWalnut custard with sultana grapes

Overall thoughts:

The team behind Perilla describe it as an "anti–fine dining, fine dining restaurant". We'd say that it's a place serving great food with informal, but slick service, that just happens to be situated in a North London neighbourhood. It's well worth crossing London for and we'll try not to be too smug that it's a 15-minute walk from where we live. Sorry.

Perilla is at 1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, London N16 9BS. Find out more about Perilla

We dined as guests of Perilla

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