Archive for the ‘Finsbury Park’ Category

Resto 11 Pizza X Drink, Stroud Green

April 16, 2018

On the site of the now defunct Gustavo’s (not missed) Pizza X Drink has another go at the bargain pizza market. They pull it off nicely. They’ve decluttered the room, a good thing, and kept the big windows so you can do some people watching.

Water was delivered immediately I was sat down (good call as I had a raging thirst from watching Middlesex crush Northants on the hottest day of the year so far) and I perused the menu. It looks more complicated than it actually is. Either you pick your own sauce and toppings or you take one ready made. I went for a Mexican with a side salad and a pint of Stella.

The beer was chilled and delivered by the manager himself (a cheerful feller who was also busy training his staff, good thing). The pizza was good without being amazing but at £5 for a man-sized portion I wasn’t complaining. Properly fiery jalapeños, ground beef and onion were perfect for me. The disappointing thing was the base, which was a bit on the pale side, I’d have liked a bit more crunch. The salad was a generous measure and they remembered to hold the red onion.

All in all Pizza X Drink is perfect if you want a quick pit stop to meet friends or on the way out. And for a total of £13 you’d find it hard to eat that well for that kind of money elsewhere in Stroud Green.

8/10

#Food #London #N8

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

The Roundabout

September 11, 2016

It was not entirely by accident that I got to learn of the Park Theatre’s excellent production of The Roundabout but it might have been. It was reviewed in The Spectator on Thursday morning (a very favourable review) and fortunately we had a Friday evening to spare so I bought the tickets immediately. It might be that it had been publicised elsewhere but in my fairly broad cultural reading (broadsheet paper, the usual BBC output, billboards/flyers, Twitter) I hadn’t heard about it even though the theatre’s on my doorstep. So first of all I’m grateful to Lloyd Evans for giving it a publicity push.

In my case he was pushing at an open door. Previous to a couple of years ago I kind of vaguely knew who JB Priestley was without having ever read or seen anything he’d written. Not even An Inspector Calls! (Which I still haven’t seen.) Having a friend who writes on the 1930s and then having to teach on the home front in the Second World War soon put paid to that.

From my teaching on the War I came to realise that Priestley was just as important a political writer in his own way as was George Orwell. And I suspect a lot more widely read by the public. But this post isn’t to talk about the relative impact of Priestley and Orwell on public opinion home and abroad during the Blitz. Rather it’s to talk (briefly) about Priestley’s novels and to ask someone to do something.

My friend John recommended that if I wanted to read anything by Priestley I should start with The Good Companions. The GC is a road novel about a working man from Bruddersford (a lightly fictionalised Bradford) and his adventures on the road with a band of artistes putting on a travelling cabaret in depression-era England. It’s a baggy old beast packed full with sentimentality, harder than you expect reportage, rounded characters, good humour and unlikely meetings. Think if Evelyn Waugh had the itinerary of Orwell and the good nature of Eric Morecombe. Or something like that. It’s a middle-brow classic. That isn’t a put down.

This was followed up by Angel Pavement, which should have been more up my street since it’s set in London. I liked it but not as much as the Companions. While the latter has benevolence in every page even when at its most bleak Pavement, for all its wonderful description of London in the 30s, feels a far more angry book. It feels that Priestley the northerner has come to despise somewhat what he sees as the harder attitudes of the south, a view that I don’t entirely share with him. And the pay off is far too easy to see from early on in the narrative. But I’d still recommend it for a description of a City of London – one of hard-pushed clerks, travelling furniture salesmen and a working port all mingled together – that hasn’t existed for many a year.

Talking over the Good Companions with a playwright friend after watching The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny I mentioned that I thought it would make a far more effective piece of musical theatre than Brecht and Weill’s overwrought sledgehammer of an allegory. ‘But it’s been done!’ he replied. And at the time I thought, ‘Well that’s interesting I must look it up.’ The major problem it seemed to me would be to write music as good in reality as it is portrayed to be in the book, especially Inigo Jollifant’s smash hit Slippin’ Round the Corner. But then I left it to one side after a search on YouTube and Spotify didn’t turn up any version of a production or the numbers within it.

The Roundabout reminded me of that conversation and I looked up the musical version of The Good Companions. With lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by André Previn it does seem to have some pedigree but I don’t remember it ever being on in London. So my hope is that if the Park’s run of Priestley is successful it might encourage someone, the Park themselves perhaps, to put on the musical. Or it’s a chunky enough number for the National I would think; and with its narrative of north and south, rich and poor, individuals and teams in an era of austerity it would surely have some resonance today.

Just as The Roundabout does. So in anticipation of a Priestley musical do go to the Park to see The Roundabout, it’s worth the trip wherever you are in London.

 

Review #23 Yak&Yeti, Stroud Green

March 8, 2016

A brief review as it being awards night (and a week after the event as I’m writing this) clarity is not strong in the reviewer today. But I have eaten at Y&Y many times before so it’s an easy review to write.

The Yak is at the glamorous end of the Indian spectrum so it’s the kind of place I could quite happily go to with my grandma (unlikely as such an outing may be) as well as my 5-a-side chums. This also means that the prices are slightly (only slightly) elevated above its surrounding Asian competition.

On a Friday night the room wasn’t bursting at the seams but was full enough. The food is good – all the standards plus a few outliers with the theme (I’m assuming, I’ve never actually enquired) being Nepalese as well as Indian food (a subtle difference I’m sure). Which means that you can choose Nepalese beer if you prefer to avoid the sugary Cobra (I did, it was yum).

Everything was served swiftly and with charm, I’d be happy to go back.

8/10

For the record the awards were won by Eric (Player of the Year) and Kev (Fair Play Award). Marshall – despite being nominated on both occasions – alas went home trophyless.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #4 – La Fabrica, Stroud Green Road

January 10, 2016

After a slightly disappointing lunch I decided to try somewhere completely new for a family dinner in the evening. I’d heard encouraging things about La Fabrica from friends so had been keen to try it out for a while. Stroud Green Road has a lot of good restaurants and so it’s easy to just go back to somewhere reliable; say Petek, Exeter Street Bakery or Season. I think La Fabrica offers a significant step up and unlike those previously mentioned is a restaurant worth travelling to Finsbury Park for even if you don’t live in the area.

The room is larger than it looks from the outside with a smattering of tables at the front next to a bar (you can dine at the bar) with a larger section at the back. The décor is sort of stripped-back industrial, fairly low-lit (good for a date I’d say) with the music (tasteful soul) noticeable but not obtrusive.

The menu offers tapas – a wide variety of tapas with a hefty amount of daily specials. I like to test a new Spanish place by trying the cold meat and cheese offerings as an intro to see what the quality is. In this case it was peerless – a generous helping of 5 or 6 different meats, each with an individual taste and texture and four varieties of sheep cheese. With some good soft bread and a glass of fino they went down a treat.

The waiter was happy to wait for us to scoff the planchas before we ordered some tapas for the main event. For these we went for a mixture of the familiar and the moderately exotic – padrone peppers, baby squid, squid ink rice, scallops and some other stuff (yup, was definitely getting the big eyes!). There’s an extensive wine list, lots of organic, and I opted for a red from Tenerife – something you don’t often see on a London menu.

It was v good. As was the food, in fact the food was better than v good. The ingredients were typically Spanish but executed beautifully, each plate a little picture that it seemed a shame to carve up between three. But we did and polished the whole lot off to the last crumb and tentacle. I was game for dessert but wiser post-Christmas counsel prevailed and we had an espresso instead (in a deep cup that kept the coffee satisfyingly warm to the last drop).

To cap it all off the service was tip-top. The waiter had obviously tasted everything on the menu and also knew about the wine in detail – a sign of an employee committed to the project. La Fabrica will be the joker for this year. A restaurant with high-end central London standards in N4 is a keeper.

9/10 (Only because I don’t believe in perfection)

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap


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