Oldroyd, Islington

Oldoryd has been sitting handsomely on Islington’s Upper Street since 2015. I’ve been a few times now and owner, Tom Oldroyd (once of Polpo fame), and head chef, Louis Lingwood, always manage to create the sort of food you’d eat on a sunny holiday.

Even more impressive: they make it all in one of London’s smallest kitchens. The dining room is tiny too. Upstairs the tables are tightly packed in but it feels cosy than cramped. For my lunchtime visit I’m seated downstairs with the action of the open kitchen.

Oldroyd’s croquetas regularly change – past hits include smoked haddock or pea and pork belly. Today, they’re filled with a cockle warming mushroom concoction (£6). They come with a punchy aioli – loads of it too – which is gloriously light.

The set lunch menu is bargainous; £19 for three courses or two for £16. I go for the latter, opting for onglet as my main. Chunks of the soft, tender beef (served rare) are paired with pickled walnuts and green beans in a smoked bone marrow butter. Simple perfection.

I show little restraint by ordering a side of zucchini fries (£3) – a better example of which I’m yet to discover. The portion is huge too. Aggressively seasoned, crisp, fresh and ruddy moreish.

Dessert is simple – hazelnut meringues with blackberries and Jersey cream. It feels very Quo Vadis (famed for its meringues) which makes sense as Louis used to be a chef there. They have that wonderful blend of crunch and chew while the tart fruit cuts through all that sugar.

What’s really lush about Oldroyd is the lack of pretension. It’s a cute restaurant with a small, enthusiastic team producing dish after dish of hits. In a world of smears, foams and water baths it’s nice to eat some proper tasty grub.

Would we go back? Yes

We dined as guests of the restaurant