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131 Upper Street
Following the departure of hot-shot BBQ chef Neil Rankin, who is now firing up the stoves at Smokehouse on nearby Canonbury Road, this
noisy, but ‘immensely cool’ foodie boozer is in a state of flux. The current chef is working out his notice and there are plans to revamp the venue in November, creating what the owners call a
‘bar-based offering’. The upstairs dining room will be turned into a more casual lounge, but for now there are still DJs at the weekends and a drinks offer running from London-brewed ales to zesty
cocktails – try the ‘beer glass’ Mary or spiced steelbottom (Flor De Cana rum, ginger, lemon, London Fields Hopster and bitters). More details to follow.
131 Upper Street
020 7359 7501
Essex Road Station 503m
Highbury & Islington Station 714m
Almeida Theatre 69m
Little Angel Theatre 70m
Mon-Fri 12N-12M (Fri -1am) Sat 11am-1am Sun 11am-11pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
I've few qualms about John Salt as a bar, but I was under the misapprehension that it's a foodie destination. (Perhaps I was lured there by the ghost of small plates and tapas past). But under the custody of Young's Brewery, John Salt has lost its culinary way; it's all generic pulled pork and mac 'n' cheese, in line with airy NY loft styling. And while noon on a Monday may be the graveyard shift in most people's minds, I found myself on the doorstep and ravenous. In the absence of a single wholesome option on the menu, I contemplated a deli-style sandwich... but got a shameless burger instead. Skinny fries, pickled gherkins and an oddly astringent slaw were all present, but the patty itself - though juicy as hell - was flavourless. The 'DNA ale' onions were too sweet, particularly given the lovely, accompanying brioche bun. And maybe I'm being harsh - maybe Jinjuu's condiments have ruined me for life - but the sauces were underwhelming: just ketchup, mustard and mayo, without a whiff of hot sauce or relish. The bottles were mucky which - when paired with all three draught beers I requested being 'off', and a complete absence of loo roll in the ladies - suggested a lack of care. Attention was more focused on hanging Christmas decorations, although service was still very pleasant each time we were face to face. I'm sorry to say the nondescript indie soundtrack was in tune with my culinary experience. I certainly wouldn't rush to eat here again; there are far too many sparky independents on Upper Street to warrant a second chance.
Food + drink: 3
Very nice place and food is good
Food + drink: 4
John Salt. This was a recommendation from my boss. This tapas style restaurant is also a bar so there was a lot of noise. The restaurant was packed so we had to sit in the bar area and it was strange making my food order at the bar too and paying up front. But this was a minor issue and the food was good.
As sharing plates we ordered six items in all. Fried courgettes with fennel salt, charred mackerel with pepper salsa, crab kampot in sourdough bread, jerk pork with pineapple, fillet beef with chimichurri and aged dripping chips. This was all enough for Laura and I and was very delicious.
A brief breakdown; the Kampot crab was amazing. Crab with Cambodian flavours of garlic, ginger, a hint of chillies and other things I don't know on top of bread almost like a pâté. They were not stingy with the crab it herbs so this was awesome and a great way to start. The food comes out once its ready and not in any specific order. Next the crispy courgettes were nice and crunchy yet soft and juicy inside. The fennel salt made it very moreish and its great that Laura is only little and doesn't eat much as there was more for me.
The mackerel was good but slightly underwhelming, especially after the crab. The meats we ordered were nice and had the Mediterranean flavours of North Africa and Greece in them. Laura described then as pork which was “tender with some crunch from the cornbread” and the fillet which was cooked medium had “lots of flavour, oil and oregano”.
A good place to go and at just over £50 for two with a drink each = a great night out. I do enjoy date night with Laura and tapas is great because you get to try various dishes and it is always a bit of excitement whilst waiting for what comes next.
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