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    Thursday, 16 May 2019

    AUTHENTHIC ITALIAN AT TERRA ROSSA, ISLINGTON

    I've been contracting in North London recently which has encourage me to explore more of the restaurants in the Clerkenwell and Islington areas. You might have seen that I visited 12:51 recently and today's find is another great place just a few doors down on Upper Street.

    It's called Terra Rossa and it's fab little Italian, showcasing the very best dishes from the Southern region of Puglia. The restaurant itself has a stripped-back airy feel with rustic wooden tables and chairs, a white-washed bar and wood-panelled walls. The menu reflects this laid-back Italian affair with dishes from Southern Italy, packed with flavour and using the finest ingredients from Italian suppliers.
    For our starters, we ordered the creamy Burrata (£10.90) served with roasted peppers which is a must-order dish whenever I see it on a menu. Those that haven't tried it before, it's a bit like a softer, creamier version of Mozzarella but in my opinion, a lot tastier!
    We also went for the 'polpo a pignatu' (£10.90), a traditional dish of braised Mediterranean octopus and potatoes in a black pepper sauce served with thick chunks of bread for mopping up all the juices.
    For our mains, we both went for pasta dishes but there's also a great range of pizzas on offer. The team at Terra Rossa have installed a custom built pasta station where the chefs hand-roll fresh pasta every day so it's super fresh and cooked perfectly al dente.
    I went for the Paccheri Al Ragu Di Mare (£14.90) which is the restaurant's twist on a bolognese ragu, but which uses minced octopus instead of meat. It was a really interesting and tasty dish, slightly sweeter than the traditional version but really enjoyable.
    Tom went for the 'Maritati & Popette' (£13.90) which combines the signature pasta with homemade meatballs and a rich, tomato ragu and plenty of ricotta cheese!
    We finished things off with a creamy Tiramisu and a Hot Chocolate Souffle - the perfect way to round up a delicious, decadent meal.
    We really enjoyed our visit to Terra Rossa. Each dish was beautifully presented and really made you feel like you were being transported across to Italy. The prices are reasonable too however I have to give a special shout out to the set menu on offer which is just £28 for three courses and a glass of prosecco which is brilliant value for money. Head to their website or Opentable for reservations.

    Terra Rossa
    139 Upper St, The Angel, London N1 1QP

    * We were invited to review the restaurant
    Our food was complimentary but all opinions are honest

    Wednesday, 15 May 2019

    RESTAURANT 12:51, ISLINGTON

    Hands up who else loves watching Great British Menu? It's one of my absolute favourite programmes to put on while I'm eating my dinner and I'm constantly making notes on the chefs, determined to try out their restaurants. A couple of weeks ago I got an invitation to try out last year's 'Champion of Champions' James Cochran new outpost and I can't tell you how excited I was! It's called 12:51 and you can find them over in Islington - here, let me show you what the food is like..
    The menu is designed for sharing with smaller portions encouraging you to order several dishes between you - or if you'd prefer, you can go with the tasting menu option instead. The dishes are 'modern British' with influences all across the global (including James' Scottish and Caribbean heritage) and focus on using quality, local ingredients.
    We kicked things off with a round of small plates to share between us and absolutely LOVED the Jerusalem artichoke (£12) topped with a creamy smoked egg mayonnaise, chive and garlic - wish I'll be honest I wasn't expecting.
    One of my favourites dishes was the buttermilk jerk chicken (£5), which were super crunchy on the outside but juicy and succulent within. These are topped with corn nuts for a little extra crunch and a delicious scotch bonnet jam, perfect for slathering on top.
    The BBQ leek (£14) was another hit for us, with its gorgeous smokey chargrilled flavour, however the price feels a little steep for a veggie dish (which is probably down to the use of truffle). It's topped with cured egg yolk, shiitake mushroom, hazelnuts and melted feta to balance out all the smokey, salty and slightly sweet flavours.
    Next comes the beautifully presented Cornish cured mackerel (£13) served alongside pickled cucumber and topped with a punchy N'duja and pork crackling for an added crunch.
    From the larger plates menu, we ordered the roast haunch of new season lamb (£22) which comes perfectly pink in thick slices and served with creamy sheep’s curd, roscoff onion, mint gremolata and topped with almonds.
    The slow braised short rib of Dexter beef (£24) was my star of the night however. The presentation was just incredible, with a huge chunk of beef which almost melted as you cut into - paired with wild garlic, miso, oyster, salsify, oyster leaf and bone marrow. Simply delicious.
    We had at an absolute feast at James' restaurant and I was so impressed with every dish that we were served on the night. Yes, the food is on the pricey side, but the standard of cooking and quality of ingredients certainly makes it worth it - especially as a treat or for a special occasion. While chatting to our waiter, he let slip that the BEST thing James cooks is a roast dinner, and having seen the photos on Instagram, I am most definitely heading back soon to give that a try! If you fancy trying 12:51, it's advisable to book as the restaurant is small and in demand!

    Restaurant 12:51
    107 Upper Street, Islington
    N1 1QN

    * We were guests of 12:51
    Our food was complimentary but all opinions are honest