Enjoying Stoke Newington's restaurants is a bit like going on a culinary tour, without the bothersome leaving-the-country part. Homa is a gem of a Mediterranean brasserie. The original branch of the chain,Rasa serves the amazing south Indian food they built their reputation on. Itto's menu, meanwhile, covers the range of Asian food, from Thai to Japanese. Think we've missed a great restaurant in Stoke Newington? Let us know in the comment box below.
Although Homa’s decorative floor tiles make for a pleasing entrance, its new wooden tables and neutral walls are a bit uninspiring, and cleanliness isn’t always up to scratch – we arrived to crumbs on a seat, as well as a bin in the ladies that was crying out to be emptied. A basket of focaccia, delivered by a friendly waiter, was also on the stale side. Things improved with a lovely starter of burrata with a delicately sweet caponata – a perfect match. Mains, from a list of hearty Mediterranean classics, brought the overall standard firmly back down to average, however.Read more
The original branch of the Rasa chain is still going strong, serving the vegetarian dishes from Kerala with which it broke the anglicised curry-house mould in 1997. The hot-pink interior sees a roaring weekend trade, thanks to the great Indian cooking at very reasonable prices. Following snacks (not just poppadoms, but achappam and pappadavadai too) with pickles, you could have a masala dosa, but that hardly seems the point.Read more
A noticeboard crammed with adverts for gardeners and yoga classes reinforces Blue Legume’s local vibe. You get the sense that everyone eating here lives within a five-minute radius. Weekends see a younger crowd healing hangovers with a standard breakfast menu. Grilled cumberland sausages, crispy hash browns, tiny button mushrooms, smoked bacon, a perfectly poached egg and a dollop of baked beans populated a generous plate. Thick scotch pancakes soaked up a pool of maple syrup, while the scrambled eggs were rich with cream.Read more
One of a collection of neighbourhood cafés on Stoke Newington High Street, Bodrum is a homely spot with canary-yellow walls and flyers advertising local events. It packs in the punters for filling weekend breakfasts – both English and Turkish versions are available – as well as lunchtime omelettes, burgers and the like. By evening, the menu turns Turkish, with a wide range of grills alongside dishes like ískender (meat baked with tomato sauce and yoghurt, and served on bread).Read more
Paellas bristling with chicken, chorizo and seafood and served in the pan are the real deal here, popular with locals seeking a change of cuisine. A tapas bar in a Turkish stronghold, El Olivo only concedes defeat when it comes to the bread – which is not Spanish but lovely, warm, locally baked and indispensable for scooping up aubergine cooked to melting softness or tender albóndigas with red peppers. No surfeit of oil to mop up, mind. While tapas can be tired and oily, these taste fresh and perky.Read more
An attractive spot on Stoke Newington Church Street gives Il Bacio an instant advantage, and very reasonable pricing also helps secure it as a firm local favourite. The menu has a Sardinian bias, with plenty of seafood and regional specialities among the usual trattoria classics. Sardinian flatbread adorns the bread basket, and the distinctive Sardinian semolina and saffron alternative to potato-flour gnocchi also crops up. Calamari piccante came with a sauce not so piccante as to overshadow the squid, and the dough for our campagnola pizza was robust and well seasoned; the topping (olives, rosemary and Sardinian salami) was perhaps a little miserly, but tasty all the same.Read more
The pair of oriental beckoning cats on a shelf, who greet customers with a smile and a wave, are one of the few giveaways as to this local eaterie’s cuisine. You certainly wouldn’t pick it from the otherwise nondescript and coldly modern interior – wooden floor, plain walls, bare wooden tables. Still, the sweet and friendly service warms the place up. The overly long menu trips across Japan, Thailand, China and Vietnam, picking up mostly obvious choices along the way. It’s ideal if, say, you fancy a Thai and your partner has a yen for Japanese.Read more
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If you're looking for a good time, head to Soho. No, not for anywhere lit by a red light, but for a night at Chotto Matte. This vast Frith Street newcomer takes Japanese-Peruvian fusion (or Nikkei) and really cranks up the volume. On the ground floor is an enormous bar, which on our visit was a seething mass of suits and glamourpusses, all drinking cocktails against a vivid manga-style mural; for the restaurant, go up a floor. Aside from another mural to inject colour, this is a study in industrial prestige: the floors are black (marble), the ceilings are black (paint), the pillars are rough-cast concrete. Attractive staff (in black – what else?) work the floor. Robata chefs tend the grill. The menu offers a spectrum of the two cuisines, though with more Latin flavour than at other Nikkei restaurants. From the Japanese end came exquisite sweet shrimp sashimi; from the Peruvian, a correctly made ceviche: curls of seabass bobbing in a zingy, chilli-spiked marinade, with sweet potato and roasted corn. In between was the fusion fare, including a terrific shrimp tempura (Japanese) with three dipping sauces: one traditional and two Peruvian-themed creations (we liked creamy jalapeño best). The only offbeat combo was grill-marinated (anticucho) pork belly laid on rice (nigiri style), then blow-torched at the table. It had theatre in spades – but this on-the-spot-flaming was more for show than flavour. It’s not the only over-the-top aspect. A trip to the loo is like a challenge fr