Test Driving Sardine - Mediterranean comfort food by Old Street

sardine mainLamb a la ficelle with white beans and green sauce

So what do we need to know about Sardine?

Well for starters, you'll learn a lot about this place from its backer - one Stevie Parle (Dock Kitchen, Rotorino, Craft London). Head Chef Alex Jackson hails from Parle's stable having been at the Dock Kitchen for five years before opening as Head Chef at Rotorino in Dalston. He also fitted in a stint with Mons Cheesemongers before opening here.

Where is it?

Halfway up City Road between Angel and Old Street (although marginally closer to Old Street) If you know the big drive-through McDonalds, it's right behind there. It's actually part of the Parasol Unit gallery.

sardine porkPork collar with swiss chard gratin

Where should I meet friends for a drink first?

You could, as we did, pop down to the stonkingly good cocktail spot Nightjar or grab a table at Hill & Szrok. Or there's a very decent pub round the corner in the Wenlock Arms.

Where should I sit?

If you enjoy watching the kitchen in action, grab one of a handful of counter seats. Otherwise, there's a long communal table down the middle for more convivial souls and a smattering of tables for 2 and 4 along one wall.

And the food?

sardine tomsPork and veal stuffed tomato

They're billing the menu as "the food of a mythical Mediterranean granny". What that means in practice is a menu split into all manner of lovely Provencal-inspired food - snacks, starters, mains, sides and desserts/cheeses with around 5-6 choices in each.

It also looks to be the type of menu that'll change a lot although we suspect some key dishes cooked slowly over the fire will remain on for a while. From what we had we'd urge you to order:

  • Broad bean toast (£3.50) - although only if you're in favour of the current trend for charred toast
  • Pork and veal stuffed tomato (£6) - how to turn a healthy item into something lardy and delicious
  • Lamb a la ficelle with white beans and green sauce (£16) - bound to be a signature dish
  • Pork collar - (£15) wonderfully cooked pork which comes with an amazing swiss chard gratin

To drink?

We liked the idea of miniaturised cocktails to start - a trend we'd seen at both The Ivy Market Grill and Sager & Wilde's Paradise Row. An Aix Dirty gin-washed Martini at £5 stood out. Wines start at an eminently reasonable £4.50 for white, red and rose on tap. But you can go up to £70 for a Rafalot 2012.

sardine cherriesCrepe with cherries, plums and almond kernel ice cream

Overall thoughts:

Anyone living in this part of City Road will be hugging themselves with glee at the opening of this convivial neighbourhood spot on their doorstep. But it's also worth a punt for anyone coming from further afield and could be a great place for Silicon Roundabout lunchers who want to talk shop a few steps away from their offices.

Sardine is at 15 Micawber Street, London N1 7TB. Find out more about Sardine. And, if you're fast, there's still time to try Sardine using our Reader Offer with 50% off breakfast and lunch until Sunday 17th July. 

Hot Dinners was invited to Sardine. Prices were correct at the time of writing.