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15 Westland Place
Jamie Oliver’s good-hearted ‘non-profit’ concept Fifteen hit the City Road area in 2002, long before the luxury developers arrived. The restaurant has changed a great deal since then, and now resembles a French bistro rather than the funky trattoria of old – although the bentwood chairs, gilt-framed pictures, studded upholstery and cheesy playlist seem at odds with the kitchen’s bright contemporary approach. Fifteen’s annual intake of apprentices is clearly learning well: our verdant broccoli soup with Beenleigh Blue and lovage oil was an upbeat version of a hoary classic; smoked cod’s roe with radishes and spelt crackers was simple and effective; and there’s guinea fowl pie with pickled walnuts for those who fancy something gutsily traditional. By contrast, the five-course ‘chef’s choice’ showcases trendier dishes – think ‘Dorset crab, courgette, wild fennel, crème fraîche and cobnut’ or ‘English strawberry, goats’ milk ice cream, elderflower, spring herbs’. Gin’s the thing at the friendly all comers’ bar.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here about Marianne Lumb’s colourful career as a private chef and the benefits of operating one of London’s smallest kitchens.
Best restaurants in North London
15 Westland Place
Old Street Station 348m
Old Street Tube Station 420m
The Brewery 889m
City University 971m
Mon-Sun 12N-3pm 6-11pm (Sun -9.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
The food was ok but over expensive for an average Italian. The menu is pretty limited. Staff was nice and friendly, the main positive point here.
The big negative point was when we left, they offered to book a cab for us which appeared to be a guy without a license who tried to properly rip us off. So annoying that it ruined the whole experience.
I would not recommend this place. You can find tons of little Italians around with a better value for money and more choice.
Don't accept their cabs!
The food itself was decent enough at Fifteen this week, but the meal as an occasion was let down by just about every other factor.
Grub-wise, the starter of risotto with prosecco and peaches was pleasant: texture was good, rice just right, although not overloaded with flavours. Main of lamb rump was lovely and tender, though the accompanying sauce had emulsified unappealingly. Wasn't tempted by starters of charcuterie or ham & melon, nor desserts.
Then the negatives:
Prices are from millionaire's row: risotto was £12, when the main ingredients were rice, butter and a peach. Lamb was £20 which was especially scandalous given the meagre portion size. There was a set menu offering keener pricing, but the choice was limited to one choice on the first two courses.
Service was poor when you're expecting diners to stump up these prices. Wait staff were having a good laugh amongst themselves, with customers in second place. The experience was more like being at a Strada: “here's yer food, get on with it”. They didn't muck anything up, they just added nothing to the experience.
The menu is irritatingly pretentious: the author feels the need to explain what burrata is, but then goes on to specify that the risotto is made with vialone nano rice – if you know enough to care about the latter, surely you'd have heard of the former? Most pretentious of all was ‘rock samphire’ and almond ‘pesto’. Clearly it's not a pesto if it's made with those two ingredients, and why call it ‘rock samphire’ when ‘samphire’ will do? Happily, however, the gor blimey Oliverisms have been minimised.
Tables are packed close together, which is disappointing given that the restaurant is in the middle of bloody nowhere. However the room has been stylishly designed, and the hard surfaces brought noise levels up to the right amount of buzz.
Not somewhere I'll return to if I'm paying!
Food + drink: 4
The Tasting Menu was a very nice experience and I found myself trying things that I would not ordinarily eat.
The highlight for me was the potato gnochi with lamb ragu which was worth the visit alone.
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