The welcome: One of London’s most lauded pop-ups has set up home (until December, at least) above a bar in Angel, serving dinner from Monday to Thursday and a Sunday brunch. One might expect the sort of pub to host chefs Aaron Webster (ex-Dinner and Pennyhill Park) and American export Remi Williams, of The Shed, to be a more raucous and gastronomically-inclined affair, but, on our visit at least, the downstairs was a soulless and sterile setting, presumably waiting to come alive much later in the evening. All is very different upstairs, thankfully, with friendly and genuinely engaged staff smoothing over any oddities in the venue.
The room: A bijou 30-cover affair, about half the seats are in the main room with another half on the outdoor terrace. Alas, when we visited, a grey and cloudy day meant that there was little call for the latter, but at least there is the option for (hopefully) sunny days ahead.
The food: Webster and Williams have been honing their trade in pop-ups across the city, and their expertise and craft are plain to see. Although the menu is billed as a five-course, no-choice extravaganza, it isn’t really: it’s a three-course job with a few frills either side. Then again, at less than £40 a head, it certainly compares favourably to anywhere else round here. And it’s very, very, good. Bread is a Guinness-coated pretzel, followed by nibbles of cumin-and-coriander-cured biltong, thyme and chickpea kernels and, fittingly enough, smoked and salted popcorn.
The menu is designed to change monthly to suit the seasons, and so next month will see a different series of treats. We enjoyed spring onions and cipollini with coddled egg, really excellent grilled lamb with garlic and pickled okra, and a complex but lovely dessert with pink grapefruit. There’s a selection of cocktails that are designed to match the starters and mains, and a short wine list offers a lovely Villa Locatelli Refosco, at a decent £32 a bottle.
Would we go again?: For the food, definitely, but we might wait until the chefs get a permanent venue more befitting their expertise.
|What||Smoke & Salt restaurant review|
|Where||Chapel Bar Islington, 29a Penton Street, London, N1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
03 Jun 16 – 31 Dec 16, 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book your table|