Cote Brasserie – Angel

Cote Brasserie is situated on Islington Green. On entering, the dining area looks quite big and the furniture is dark wooden. There are booths with cushioned seating. There is a private dining area at the back of the restaurant which is separated by a curtain.

Being seated in this back section, the service was a little slow. Quite a few times throughout the evening, we had to go get the staff so that we could order food and drinks. Saying that though, the staff were friendly and polite.

Baskets of sourdough bread were given to start with. These warm slices of bread were delicious with lashings of butter.

With choices such as roast chicken, baked crepes, salads and fish stews on the Cote Brasserie menu, it was hard to decide what to choose. The Pan Roasted Hake Supreme sounded like a complete meal as it came with a side of potatoes. The hake was lovely and moist with a crispy skin. It had been braised with savoy cabbage and was in a dill and mushroom sauce with peas. Dill is not a favourite herb but in this creamy sauce it worked well as it was not overpowering. There was a good balance of flavours.

The side dish of Pommes Rissolees and Bacon Lardons was a good portion. These cubed crispy potatoes with lots of bacon pieces made the main hake dish a satisfying meal.

For dessert, the Tarte Fin Aux Pommes felt like a proper dessert. There was the contrast of textures between the crispy puff pastry, baked apples slices and the soft ice cream. The pastry had the right amount of sweetness and the apples were cooked with a slight bite to them. The apple tart was given with vanilla and strawberry ice cream together with fresh apple slices and grapes. The dessert was absolutely wonderful and a great way to end the meal.

Cote Brasserie provided us with delicious food and it was all presented well. It showed that they had given thought to the flavour combination of the dishes.

Cote Brasserie, 4-6 Islington Green, London, N1 2XA

Rating: ★★★★☆
Côte Islington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bill’s – Angel

It’s hard to pick a venue for a big gathering and it can be a bit of a gamble when it is a place that has not been to before. The main thing is that you want everything to go smoothly from the service to the quality of the food.

There was nothing at all to worry about when the venue was Bill’s. It was a flawless evening with everyone enjoying the tasty food. When we were having the starter platters, the staff came and asked if we were ready to order the main dishes. They wanted to let us know that they had another big party arriving and hence didn’t want us to be delayed with our food. This worked fine with us as we ordered the mains, but we had the time to finish our starters. By the time the main dishes came out from the kitchen, we were all ready for them.

The Veggie Mezze was a wonderful tasty selection. The grilled garlic mushroom skewers had so much flavour as did the chickpea and parsley falafels. For the cheese lovers, the crumbed halloumi sticks hit the spot. Crunchy corn tortillas with the combination of the salsa, tomato hummus and tzatziki dips was moreish. The olives and smokey tomatoes made the starter platter complete.

For the main meal, the Rustic Butternut Squash Stew was a good choice. Butternut squash cubes cooked with onions and chargrilled peppers was hearty but not heavy. The lightness of the freekah grain that it was served with complemented the stew. The dish was made even more vibrant with kale and pistachios.

The evening at Bill’s would not have been complete if dessert had not been had. The Warm Mini Cinnamon Doughnuts were perfect. The little delights came in a sundae glass with chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauces.

The evening at Bill’s was a success and everything was enjoyable. The seating areas were spacious, great produce displays and also there was an outdoor courtyard area. Fresh, vibrant and quality cuisine is how Bill’s can be summed up.

Bill’s, 9 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PD

Rating: ★★★★★
Bill's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoBills Restaurant Islington

Franco Manca – Angel

A friend had told me about the wonderful pizza at Franco Manca many years ago. This was when it had opened one of its first branches down in Brixton. Although Franco Manca has recently been popping everywhere, it is only now that Franco Manca has been visited. I trust my friend’s judgement of cafes and restaurants and there’s not been a time when places haven’t lived up to high standards.

Franco Manca is fairly big and the pizza oven is situated in the middle of the restaurant. There is outdoor seating but also the wooden tables and chairs inside extend to the back. A mirrored wall and ornate side mirrors makes the restaurant feel airy and spacious.

The pizza oven has a colourful mosaic design. The pizza can be seen made in the open kitchen next to the oven. The lighting and pipes all add to the exposed minimalist look to Franco Manca. Two big boards, one at the front and one at the back display the specials, sides and desserts. The menu consists of only six different pizzas, ranging from simple tomato, garlic, oregano through to cured chorizo and Gloucester old spot home cured ham pizzas.

The staff are really friendly and welcoming. They were happy to put less cheese on my vegetarian pizza and also to omit the goat’s curd. Even the hot water was given in a glass with a napkin tied around it, making easier to hold.

The vegetarian special sounded interesting with the Franco and Llloyd mozzarella, organic tomato, mixed peppers with garlic and capers, caramelised red onions, goat’s curd and wild garlic pesto. There was also another pizza which may have to be tried on another occasion. This was the “no tomato” pizza with courgettes, basil, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta and Franco and Cantarelli Grana.

It’s informative that Franco Manca states the information on their menu about how their pizza is made from a slow-rising dough and how it is baked. It explains that the edge of the pizza shouldn’t be discarded as it is a soft and digestible crust due to the slow levitation and blast cooking process.

The service at Franco Manca is fast even though the restaurant was pretty much full on this Friday evening. Cutlery is provided on the table in a tin can along with napkins, oils, pepper and tap water. Fairly loud music was playing in the background but then this was drowned out by the chatter from the other diners.

A steaming hot pizza was presented by the friendly staff. It smelt wonderful. The crust had to be tried first. It was so soft with the distinctive sourdough taste definitely coming through. The toppings were generous, cooked just right and a good combination. The wild garlic pesto was dotted around the pizza and it was a favourite topping.

The base was thin with a thin layer of tomato sauce. The Franco and Llloyd mozzarella did not overpower the pizza and tasted great. The punchiness from the garlic pesto complemented the sweet red onions and the sourdough base. The pizza was amazing and delicious. It lived up to the standards that friends had told me about Franco Manca.

Staff quickly cleared up after diners and tables were swiftly ready for the next hungry customers. Lots of staff meant water bottle refills and extra orders could easily be taken without the wait.

Dining at Franco Manca was thoroughly enjoyable. Although usually independent restaurants are visited over restaurant chains, Franco Manca has been a great discovery. Their pizza is done superbly with their signature sourdough recipe and to a high quality too.

Have a read about the man behind Franco Manca from Brixton Blog:

Franco Manca, 72 Upper Street, Angel, London, N1 0NY

Rating: ★★★★★
Franco Manca, Islington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Radici – Angel

Opposite the Almeida Theatre, lots of greenery and a few benches mark the restaurant Almeida. The entrance is decorated with crates of fresh lemons, a lemon tree and cushioned seating.

The restaurant area is spacious, clean and feels calming with its soft blue walls, brickwork and wooden furniture. There is a nice variety to the seating. Some of the bigger tables had been decorated according to the season. As it was autumn time, big bowls of pumpkins made for the centre pieces. There was a rustic homely feel to this restaurant. The music in the background was not too loud. Radici’s kitchen could be seen through the rectangular “arches”.

The pizza that was ordered was one from Sicily. The Siciliana had smoked ricotta, aubergine and mozzarella. It was served on a wooden board. Radici’s pizza base was thin and cooked just right. Big slices of aubergine were tender and soft. The smoked ricotta couldn’t really be tasted. But the simple rich tomato sauce came through.

As the ricotta couldn’t be tasted, I did enquire with the staff to see if it had been missed off. Initially, the staff said that it was melted in with the mozzarella. But then, the waiter came back and told me that it had accidently been missed off the pizza. A small dish of the smoked ricotta was brought so that I was able to top the pizza with it. The addition of the smoked ricotta gave the pizza so much depth and flavour.

The staff were really friendly and did come to check that everything was okay. They also came to tell me that they were happy to pack the pizza to take away if it couldn’t be finished.

Dining at Radici was just what was needed after a long and busy day. Great pizza, a good atmosphere and feeling happily relaxed made a lovely end to a productive day. Sometimes it is the simple things that can brighten the day.

Radici, 30 Almeida Street, London, N1 1AD

Rating: ★★★★☆
Radici Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rosa’s Thai Cafe – Islington

Autumn time is here with the month of September. With there being a chill in the air, there is a need for hot food compared to the cold summer salads.

Rosa’s Thai Cafe in Angel looks fairly small from the exterior. A few window seats enable you to sit and watch the world pass by. There is a bar area at the entrance. The first area of the restaurant is booth seating surrounded by wooden panels and beams.

The back area is more light and airy due to the skylight and white walls. In this section, there is cushioned seating along the wall teamed with low chairs. Colourful paintings decorate the walls. There is a nice simplicity to the decor and globe lighting. The restaurant is very clean, tidy and spacious. Situated right at the far end is Rosa’s open kitchen. The constant cooking sounds of the stirring in the wok and utensils can be heard.

The Vegetarian Pad Thai was presented on a blue and white plate. The portion looked slightly small but once it was delved into, it was a good sized dish. Rosa’s Pad Thai was a plate full of rice noodles, big broccoli florets, some crinkle cut carrots, courgettes, fried tofu, spring onions and fresh beansprouts. It was garnished with crushed peanuts and a lime wedge. This time, the Pad Thai was ordered without the classic egg.

Rosa’s Pad Thai had the aroma of a classic Pad Thai and the flavours were wonderful. The tangy and sweet tamarind sauce came through. The vegetables were cooked to perfection and the different textures brought a good dimension to the dish. Rosa’s Thai Cafe reminded me of why a good Pad Thai is a favourite of mine.

The staff at Rosa’s Thai Cafe are friendly and gave service with a smile. The food was served quickly and brought out to the table steaming hot. Hot water was given in colourful orange cup and saucer. The wooden tables had an etched white design.

Rosa’s Thai Cafe is slightly set back from the well known Upper Street but it is the place to go to in Angel for Pad Thai. The other dishes they serve would be worth a try for sure, especially the ones on the Rosa Recommends Board.

It is the recipes of Chef Saiphin that are at Rosa’s Thai Cafe. As said by Chef Saiphin

“Nothing makes me happier than making people smile with my cooking. I have always loved food and my vision for Rosa’s was always to share this passion. Every dish on the menu is created by me, based on my family recipes or inspirations from places that I have lived in. Each dish carries fond memories for me, and sharing that with my customers is what Rosa’s Thai Cafe is all about.”

Rosa’s Thai Cafe, 6 Therberton Street, Islington, London, N1 0QX

Rating: ★★★★★
Rosa's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

Vivo – Angel

Vivo had a wonderful range of Italian food organised and displayed in its covered glass 14 metre counter. The food display started off with calzone pizzas, then came the black soup cauldrons, followed by the anti pasti items, salads, cakes and then finally the wines. All of the food looked fresh and of a high quality.

The soft lighting and the jazz music made dining at Vivo a relaxed experience. There was a gentle hum about the place. The staff kept the whole area clean and tidy. There were wooden panels on the counter wall and also stone walls. A terrace was on the upper level. Comfy backed cushioned stools made up the seating and there were big and small tables. The bar was at the far end.

Originally, we came to Vivo for coffee but then we were tempted by the sight and aroma of the food. There was so much variety of the food and it felt like there was something for everyone. On the menu, there was pizza, pasta, meats, seafood, desserts and gelato. Vivo also does takeaway.

A super choice was the Antipasto Italiano. Delicious creamy burrata, slices of Parma ham and green olives were presented to us on a slate plate. Two soft chunks of pizza bread were freshly baked focaccia bread. As we had ordered at the counter, our eyes were attracted to the buffalo chicken. Succulent tender chicken thighs had been marinated in paprika and had a cornflake covering. It came with a really spicy buffalo side sauce. The Antipasto Italiano together with the big portion of chicken made for a substantial amount of food.

The Vivo staff were extremely friendly and gave great service. It was nice that the staff came and informed diners that orders were to be placed at the counter. They also didn’t mind me sitting for a while and not ordering until my friend got there.

Vivo provided a great setting for a lovely impromptu belated birthday treat and get together. It had everything just right from its high quality food, good atmosphere to the great staff. Next time together with the food, coffee will have to be tried.

Vivo, 57/58 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 0NY

Rating: ★★★★★
Vivo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

Axis Bar & Restaurant at Hilton Hotel – Angel

The table was set for a wonderful Afternoon Tea with close friends to celebrate a milestone achievement. A black treasure chest full of the colourful array of Twinings teas was presented to us by Axis. There was Traditional English, Earl Grey, Assam, Peppermint, Green Tea, Red Berry and Camomile all in tea pouches. Throughout the afternoon, the staff gave us the choice to have different teas. The teas started off with the full bodied Assam with milk and then went towards the lighter but just as flavoursome Red Berry and Peppermint ones.

The three tiers of the Afternoon Tea were delightful. The finger sandwiches were cucumber with cream cheese on white bread and honey roast ham with mustard on wholemeal bread. The savoury food had the added selection of butter brioche of egg and cress mayonnaise and also a bagel topped with smoked salmon and Philadelphia. One of the bagels was replaced with a cheese and tomato on white bread as requested. It was nice to have the variety of brioche and bagels with the sandwiches. The fillings were complemented by the different breads.

As always, the middle tier had the baked fruit scones. They were of a good size and dusted with icing sugar. Axis sources award winning clotted cream from Dorset’s Blackmore Vale, which has been producing it since 1958. A dish of the clotted cream was accompanied by individual pots of Bonne Maman strawberry jam and marmalade.

The sweetest tier was made up chocolate eclairs, Victoria cake, mini macaroons and slices of coffee and walnut cake. All of the sweet treats were super and each one was so fresh. The highlight had to be the trifle in the shot glasses. Fruit, sponge, custard and cream are the best combination and one which can never be too much.

The Afternoon Tea had filled us up but there was an added element to end our day. It was really thoughtful and lovely of Axis to bring us a surprise birthday treat and we were taken aback. A cake platter was beautifully presented with lemon tart, rich chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookie triangles, strawberry towers, blackberries, mini marshmallows, raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce and a little jar of sweeties.

Even though Axis Bar and Restaurant is part of a hotel, the dining area is fairly big and separated into a few sections. The decor was deep reds and golds and cushioned seating with dark furniture. The staff were friendly, efficient and gave us good service.

Everything at the Axis Bar and Restaurant was great. It was really nice that they had taken the Afternoon Tea selection to another level with the different breads, bagels, fresh cream cakes and trifle. It made for a happy memorable occasion with friends and one which will always be treasured.

Axis Bar & Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, 53 Upper Street, Angel, London, N1 0UY

Rating: ★★★★★
Axis Bar & Restaurant - Hilton London Islington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Piacha Tea Bar – Angel

Piacha was noticed many many months ago by one of the Rate My Bistro team. It looked like “our type of place” with lots of teas and comfy seating.

There is something quite special about Piacha. The staff make you feel very welcome and are able to give you tea suggestions. With so many teas on offer and unusual combinations, it can take a while to decide.

If you get the opportunity, then booking yourself in for one of Piacha’s tea tasting events is a must. You get taken through a number of teas, get to learn about the tea origins and the flavours. It is a great chance to sample different teas; ones which you may not have thought you would like.

Piacha Tea Bar has a black and red theme. There is additional seating on the lower level. The front of the cafe has the display of all of the loose teas, the range of beautiful teacups, teapots and tea accessories. The covered counter display is adorned with cakes, tarts, salads and sandwiches. Talking of which, Piacha does a different take on Afternoon Tea. Their sandwiches are infused with teas. They have specific teas to make the sandwiches such as the Genmaicha and Lapsang. Matcha ice cream is also on the menu.

After the shop and counter area is where you can relax with your tea. The lighting is soft and the music is jazz like. Big glass mugs contain the ruby golden teas. Being a fan of rooibos tea, the two varieties were had. The Rooibos Choc Cinnamon gives a subtle chocolatey flavour and pairs well with the cinnamon. It is nice on its own but also good with a dash of soya milk. The Rooibos Rhubarb Fudge is quite fruity with some sweetness from the strawberries and fudge.

Other teas that have had been had before are the Apple Green and the Berry Mix. Both are equally as good. For something refreshing, the Mint & Mint is a blend of classic peppermint with spearmint.

The menu at Piacha also has black teas, oolong teas (the Milky Oolong is delicious), green teas and mate, white teas, herbal blends, tea lattes, coffees and hot chocolate. Iced tea smoothies are on the menu. If you want something to warm you up, Piacha has just introduced porridge. With flavours such as Builder’s Brew, Red Berries and Matcha Coconut, this is no ordinary porridge. The unique porridge has been made with tea and it comes with spices, berries and nuts.

Piacha Tea Bar is a friendly relaxed tea haven. It is open till late and does wonderful real teas in flavours that match everyone’s tastes. Piacha has taken a lot of thought and effort to get the tea blends just right and new items keep appearing on the menu depending on the season. It’s always exciting to see what Piacha is going to come up with next!

Piacha Tea Bar, 280 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 2TZ

Rating: ★★★★★
Piacha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Gate – Angel

Sometimes, we take it for granted when we live close to our friends. The regular meet ups, popping over to each other’s houses and going for that cup of tea. But when they move away to a different area, then it makes us realise how much we miss those casual get togethers.

After a couple of months of not seeing my close friend, we thought that it’s best to put a date in the diary and go out for lunch. The vegetarian restaurant, The Gate, was chosen.

The Gate is on the same location that used to be Med Kitchen, before it closed down. The dining area felt spacious and there seemed to be a lounge area on the upper level with comfy sofas. Just like with Med Kitchen, the open kitchen area makes up part of the restaurant.

The Gate InteriorThe GateThe Gate Interior 2The Gate Butternut GnocchiThe Gate Indo-Iraqi Potato CakeThe Gate Aubergine SchnitzelThe Gate Aubergine Schnitzel 2The Gate Thai Vegetable CurryThe Gate Apple, Cinnamon and Blackberry Crumble

The Gate does exquisite vegetarian and vegan food and also has a lot of gluten free options. All the dishes are so different. We were spoilt for choice with the menu. The Plantain Fritters first took our fancy but then after speaking to the staff, we changed our mind. The only reason for this was that the fritters were made with minced sultanas, which would make them a little sweet.

Both of the starters that we chose were delicious. The Indo-Iraqi Potato Cake was big, round, seeded and had so much flavour. It was made with potato, courgettes, baby corn, carrots, peas and red onion. It was delicately spiced. The chutney that the potato cake was served with was sweet and sour tamarind and it was also topped with an apple and coriander chutney. It was a truly delightful starter.

The other impressive starter was the Butternut Gnocchi. This gnocchi was not like any that I have had before. Gone away with the stodgy, dull, heavy gnocchi and instead, The Gate’s gnocchi was a real delight. The mashed butternut squash was covered with a thin coating. The gnocchi was in a cream sauce and also came with a roasted tomato salsa and thin shavings of Twineham Grange cheese. The Butternut Gnocchi was a really tasty dish and even though it had a cream sauce, it did not feel heavy.

After we had finished our starter dishes, we decided after a short while to then order the main dishes. Unfortunately, we did not know that the kitchen had closed for the afternoon and would not reopen until the evening service. After talking to our waiter, he said that he would ask the chef is he could make our main dishes for us. It was really nice of the chef to reopen the kitchen, just to make us our food. The staff were friendly throughout our time at The Gate. Even though, they had closed for the afternoon, they let us continue with our meal and made us feel very welcome.

Again, we were thoroughly impressed with our main dishes, both taste wise and presentation wise. The Aubergine Schnitzel was two long thick slices of aubergine encasing roasted red peppers, pesto, apple wood smoked cheddar and tomatoes. The aubergine was coated in a rough bread crumb coating. All the vegetables were cooked to perfection and all the natural flavours came through. The potato dauphinoise that the schnitzel was served with was great too. One of the things that made this dish that extra bit special was the pan fried kale. It had such an intense flavour.

The Thai Vegetable Curry was a mild curry. It had a lemony flavour going through it. The curry was made with mange tout, baby corn, mushrooms and beansprouts. It came with wild and basmati rice and a small dish of pineapple and chilli salsa. The curry contained a lot of vegetables and the portion size was fairly big.

By the time it came to us ordering our dessert, the evening service had already begun and the restaurant was getting busy. The Apple, Cinnamon and Blackberry Crumble had the natural taste of the fruit and not too much sugar had been added to the fruit. There was a thin layer of crumble topping. The dessert was served with vanilla ice cream. The tartness of the fruit contrasted with the crumble and the sweet ice cream.

The Gate is a wonderful restaurant, offering fantastic quality food and great service. A great deal of care and attention is given to the presentation of the food making it look very pretty. But the presentation does not take anything away from the taste of the food; the quality of ingredients speak for themselves.

The Gate, 370 St John Street, Angel, London, EC1V 4NN

Rating: ★★★★★
The Gate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal