Angelina: ‘Curious and considerate’ – restaurant overview | Meals


Angelina, 56 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AH (020 7241 1851). 5-course set menu £38; each day plate £9; wines from £24

After I first heard about Angelina, I suffered acute flashbacks. Swiftly it was November 2003, and I used to be again in a sun-drenched white field of a room in London’s St James’s, feeling unkempt and nowhere close to cool sufficient for the partitions. A waiter was providing to elucidate the idea behind the menu. I used to be making an attempt to not flinch. London’s nasty, brutish critics pointed and laughed on the place and I pointed and laughed with them. After it closed, one of many homeowners, Jamie Barber, gave a spirited defence: “Some folks say Shumi wasn’t a profitable restaurant, however I disagree. I say it was an unmitigated catastrophe. I believe we acquired every part proper apart from the design, the service, the menu, the pricing and the execution. It was a particularly troublesome interval.”

Shumi’s revolutionary thought was to fuse the meals of Italy and Japan. There was a “paccio bar” the place you bought to eat “Italian sushi”. The risotto got here with chopsticks. And so forth. Barber, who has gone on to better issues, has already mentioned what must be mentioned, so I received’t add to it. Nonetheless, I did shiver involuntarily once I heard {that a} bunch of cooks with expertise at good locations like Bocca di Lupo, Bevis Marks and Enoteca Turi have been coming collectively in London’s Dalston to undertake “a surreal exploration of Japanese and Italian cuisines, cultures and influences”. To which Karl Marx’s line about historical past repeating itself, first as tragedy then as farce, got here to thoughts. Had we not suffered sufficient?

‘Surely tempura and fritto misto are two preparations with the same intent?’ Angelina’s version.

‘Certainly tempura and fritto misto are two preparations with the identical intent?’ Angelina’s model. {Photograph}: Sophia Evans/The Observer

We will all loosen up, as a result of Angelina may be very a lot a catastrophe averted – and by an extended mark. Shumi’s undoing was its jaw-jutting swagger. God, nevertheless it liked itself. (I suppose someone needed to.) Angelina seems like a superbly intentioned, low-key experiment. It’s like being invited spherical for dinner by your mate; the nerdy one who can actually cook dinner, and who has simply gone into his Japanese part. Essentially the most overtly Japanese parts are within the decor: the paper lanterns shading lightbulbs, for instance, or the noren curtain over the doorway to the again kitchen from the open kitchen out entrance.

The meals, in the meantime, is a delicate treatise on what Japanese and Italian cooking have in widespread. For certainly tempura and fritto misto are two preparations with the identical intent? They each wish to protect the integrity of the principle ingredient courtesy of a crisp batter overcoat. Aren’t sashimi and crudo shut kinfolk that actually must get to know one another higher? What’s key right here is that the kitchen is just not making an attempt to fake they’ve utterly nailed the intricacies of Japanese meals. At base they’re serving Italian meals, with intriguing Japanese grace notes. This time spherical I give thanks that there seems to be area available in the market for one thing so curious and considerate.

It’s additionally good worth, so long as you are ready for the works. They serve a five-stage set menu for £38, plus a single each day altering plate at £9. It begins with a fritto misto. There’s a plate piled with cime di rape or winter greens, in a crisp, lacy batter overcoat which snaps simply. With them is a candy soy-based sauce for dipping. On one other plate there are artichokes deep-fried in what the Romans seek advice from because the “Jewish type”, the outer leaves crisped and fragile, alongside thick discs of long-braised pig that has been breaded and deep fried. These include a darkish Japanese-style, sweet-and-sour sauce so that you’re now interested by tonkatsu, that encouraging slab of deep-fried breaded pork loin which is likely one of the minor miracles of Japanese cooking.

‘Candy pink, lined up on the plate like commas’: crudite of prawns.

‘Sweet pink, lined up on the plate like commas’: crudite of prawns. {Photograph}: Sophia Evans/The Observer

Served alongside this, in order that the desk fills with dainty items of Japanese porcelain, is the uncooked course. There are candy-pink Sicilian prawns dressed solely in a bit of olive oil and lemon, lined up on the plate like commas. They’re candy and evenly sticky. One other plate brings skinny slices of marinated sea bream, the translucence of mom of pearl. A 3rd has a heap of tuna tartare. Name these dishes crudo and so they’re Italian. Name them sashimi and so they’re Japanese. Your name.

Subsequent, a risotto studded with dense, oily items of unagi – barbecued eel – the rice flavoured with soy butter. If I used to be being actually choosy, I’d niggle over the risotto’s wobble; over whether or not it had been cooked out fairly lengthy sufficient. Then once more, the pleasure of this dish trumps the technical stuff each time. It jogged my memory of the tip stage of a bowl of unagi chirashi, by which the eel is laid over a heaped bowl of heat sushi rice. The oils from the fish mingle with the grains, and dribbles of soy lubricate the entire intense, comforting enterprise. It could not fairly be a bowl of risotto, however it’s a plate of loveliness.

‘A bit of a shrug’: panna cotta, with a chocolate mousse and black sesame.

‘A little bit of a shrug’: panna cotta, with a chocolate mousse and black sesame. {Photograph}: Sophia Evans/The Observer

For the meat course it’s the jaw exercise that’s onglet, given a critical char over the hibachi, however nonetheless very a lot a deep offal pink inside and completely beefy. Alongside is a chunk of griddled radicchio, to deliver an fringe of the bitter to the evening. We additionally get the each day plate which right this moment is hunks of their very own coarse-cut sausages, with a rugged again observe of the duodenal and the farmyard. It does it for me, however could not do it for others. The items of sausage are threaded by candy heaps of yellow and purple cherry tomatoes. It’s a honest outdated plateful for £9.

We end with a little bit of a shrug: a panna cotta, with a chocolate mousse and black sesame. All components are lick-the-bowl-clean good. However there’s no level pretending: each Japan and Italy have compelling dessert traditions. That is from the softer finish of each, actually and figuratively. Regardless of. It’s nonetheless a enjoyable trip. As if to emphasize that that is an Italian restaurant wanting east, somewhat than a Japanese place wanting west, the wine checklist is totally Italian. There may be additionally a bar which, barely oddly, is off the bogs, although it might be the opposite approach round.

It’s such a candy enterprise, so cheerfully fanboyish in its devotion to the subtleties of each cooking traditions, that I fear it’s going to achieve solely area of interest novelty standing. I’d love them to succeed and increase their explorations. To try this the menu should change repeatedly. I’ll assume it’s going to. Oh, and also you lot should guide to eat there. You actually ought to.

Information bites

Gaijin Sushi in Birmingham is one other place born out of a non-Japanese cook dinner’s fascination with the meals of Japan. On this case, nevertheless, it’s all in. Polish-born chef Michal Kubiak has spent years studying his craft, each in Poland and right here, and we’re the beneficiaries. He brings grace, wit and critical enthusiasm to a largely traditional sushi and sashimi menu, and all at a particularly reasonable value (

D&D Eating places is to shut the as soon as iconic Kensington Place restaurant, after 30 years. Below Rowley Leigh for its first 20 years, Kensington Place in west London was thought to be a beacon of contemporary British cookery. In case you’ve ever eaten scallops with pea purée, then you may have Leigh and KP to thank. Your entire web site can be redeveloped.

Edinburgh chef Mark Greenaway, who not too long ago closed his eponymous restaurant within the metropolis, has introduced his subsequent transfer. In the midst of April, he’s taking over the area within the Waldorf Astoria resort at present occupied by the Galvin Brothers, to open Grazing by Mark Greenaway (

E-mail Jay at [email protected] or observe him on Twitter @jayrayner1

Supply hyperlink

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.