Something rather special - we Test Drive Dandy on Newington Green

alexanderTempura Alexander leaf

So what do we need to know about Dandy?

Well, it started life as a pop up, taking over two shipping containers in an alley in London Fields. So far, so very East London. Co-owner and head chef Dan Wilson trained as a sourdough baker back in his native Brisbane before moving to London where via Petersham Nurseries and P Franco he arrived here in Stoke Newington. Joining him is his business partner Andy Leitch whose speciality is coffee, having previously worked at Prufrock and then MacIntyre Coffee.

And where exactly is it?

If you're a Stokie local, you'll know they've taken over the site previously occupied by Newington Table. If you're travelling from another part of London probably your best bet is to take the overground to Canonbury where it's a 5 minute walk up to Newington Green.

What about meeting friends for a drink first?

Yield, just across the green is a lovely spot for a glass of wine, and we like The Cellars pub on Newington Green Road too. But there's a lot of outside space here at Dandy which will come into its own when summer proper kicks in.

And where should we sit?

There's a convival (and huge) communal table at the front of the restaurant looking out on to the green which looked fun - and would be a great place to perch for brunch or lunch. And we liked our spot, in a table for two along the right hand side of the dining room looking into the open kitchen.


So, what kind of food is it?

As you might expect from a modern London restaurant, much is made of using ultra seasonal produce - here it's with a focus on "taste, texture and presentation". And at Dandy, they're faithful to their mission statement - the menu is jam packed with spring produce.

Of course, it helps they've picked the perfect time to open. So there's wild garlic mash (or would have been, if it hadn't all been eaten by those here at lunch) and charred radiccio with blood orange, for example.

In the end, much of what we eat, comes from the specials of the day, although our first dish - a wonderful tempura of Alexander leaf (we had to look it up - you may know it better as horse parsley - £6.50) sets the tone for what's to come. So we have fresh English asparagus served with a cracking Parmesan custard and teeny flavour bombs courtesy of intensely flavoured tomatoes. There's a plate of fried chicken served with plate lickingly good harissa mayo (£10), and then we're served a lahmacun topped with a lamb ragout (£8). We briefly detour back to the menu proper for a bracingly fresh dish of courgette ribbons served up with sweet fresh peas (£6).

Dishes are, we'd say, generous servings. We've really ordered too much for dessert but when the waiter describes them to us, we find ourselves ordering (and polishing off) two bowls - a lovely salted meringue topped with rhubarb and pistachio (and a really wonderful blood orange pannacotta made with sake lees. SO good and both just £6.50 each.

And the wine?

A lot has been said, written and debated on social media this past week about natural wines. We've had good and bad, but the two we tried from an all natural wine list here were both very drinkable. The list runs from £5 for a 125ml glass up to £38 for a bottle. It's a small list though and with only one white and one red at £25, it climbs a little steeply when there's only 9 bottles in total to choose from. That said, our Ribella Gialla from Fruili was utterly delicious for £35.

There are currently two pre-dinner drinks, a vermouth and spritz on the menu. With such a large bar space, maybe there are plans to expand the cocktail list in the future.

Overall thoughts:

This was one of my favourite meals of the year to date. Fresh, modern and so delicious. If the menu keeps changing as much as they say it will, I can see myself coming back regularly. The Stoke Newington dining scene is really going great guns at the moment and Dandy is another huge boost to it.

rhubarbMeringue, rhubarb and pistachio

What: Dandy

Where: 20 Newington Green, London N16 9PU

How to book: Call 020 8617 1930

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Twitter @dandycaf.

Hot Dinners were guests of Dandy. Prices correct at time of publication.