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FKA Black Axe Mangal

  • Restaurants
  • Highbury
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

There are limits to everything. Parts of N1 may be a bit ‘trendy’, but it’s possible Highbury’s not ready for a dark, loud, no-reservations eatery with a floor painting of penis graffiti out front. Head chef Lee Tiernan did a ten-year stint at St John Bread & Wine and has brought his rock-themed, uber-kebab concept to Islington following a pop-up in Copenhagen. It follows that the menu is what would happen if a gastropub had a one-night stand with a Turkish chargrill. Crispy pig cheek and Waldorf salad are most uncommon bedfellows.

Lamb offal flatbread was a highlight, its subtly earthy meat mixture balanced beautifully by pickled red onion. Soft-but-crisp woodfired bread also made the ideal vehicle for the Dexter Mission Chinese Deep Throater. It makes sense that a dish with such an offensive name should be an assault on the tongue, but a thickly applied spice mix made each mouthful almost gritty with Sichuan pepper and cumin. Similarly, charred hispi cabbage with fermented shrimp butter was excitingly punchy at first, but after a few forkfuls the umami tang wormed its way up the back of our noses. The beef recipe comes from hipster hotspot Mission Chinese in Manhattan (hence the name).

Luckily the drinks list diluted things a little. Ryan Chetiyawardana (of Mr Lyan fame) helped come up with the cocktails, and a Whiskey Sourz – sweetened with rosehip and honey shrub – was a creamy winner. 

Such well-made food should be allowed to sing with the aid of big flavours rather than be drowned out by them. The BAM rockers need to turn it down from 11. There’s no equivalent of earplugs for the palate.

Written by
Ashleigh Arnott


156 Canonbury Rd
N1 2UP
View Website
Tube: Highbury & Islington
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