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Common Ground

  • Restaurants
  • Finsbury Park
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  1. A plate of puri (Photograph: David Robson)
    Photograph: David Robson
  2. A table of food  (Photograph: David Robson)
    Photograph: David Robson
  3. Mushroom scallops (Photograph: David Robson)
    Photograph: David Robson
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

There are some restaurants you go to for the food and the food only. You’re served up inelegant slathers of brown slop, or messy, plonked-on-a-plate stodge. It may look bad, but it tastes unreal. But there are other restaurants that are more in tune with going to an art gallery. Their dishes are spectacles: every salad leaf and grain of seasoning is meticulously placed like some sort of teasing, edible sculpture. If their star dish was a model, it would be Kate Moss. Do you know what I’m saying? 

Common Ground – a cute neighbourhood café and eatery in Finsbury Park – fits with the latter. The venue sticks out like a sore, gentrified thumb in the middle of Stroud Green Road, with its earthy interiors and windows stacked with pastries and house focaccia. Known for their lunch-time eats, the team have decided to make the most of the lighter nights and introduce an evening menu. It’s all seasonal and mostly plant-based, with a mix of small and big plates and some classic-themed cocktails to wash it all down. 

My pal and I grabbed a glass of Corbières Rosé each, because summer. And – even though the sun was still shy behind the clouds – Common Ground felt effortlessly summery. Their back garden is a little oasis, with decking, flowery shrubs and fairy lights crowding the tables. There’s even one of those transparent igloos so you can still enjoy the greenery if the rain decides to hit. 

Their back garden is a little oasis, with decking, flowery shrubs and fairy lights crowding the tables

To start, we lined our stomachs with warm focaccia, cultured butter and garlic oil, before our first plate arrived: four cute balls of Indian puri with a chickpea, potato, and pomegranate filling. The lime and mint coconut dressing and tamarind chutney were welcomed to wet the dry crunch of the puri, which had their tops chopped off to show the bitty, rainbow insides. It tasted nice enough, but needed more of a chilli or lime kick to make it anything more.

Next, we had king oyster scallops with cauliflower puree and crispy tempeh crumbs, finished with sweet lemon dressing and a scattering of hazelnuts and capers. There was a slight smokiness to the dish, and the bouncy texture of the mushroom was perfect: not at all slimey. This was followed by Japanese sesame arancini with shiso leaf emulsion and wasabi. I understood what they were trying to do with this, but its utter blandness meant that it didn’t quite hit the spot.

By the time we got to dessert, I was starting to feel dangerously done with veggie food

Our larger plate of confit hispi cabbage with leeks, cashew nut ricotta and pumpernickel crumbs arrived next. Sprinkled with petite snowdrop petals and banged in the middle of a pool of gloriously green dill oil, it looked and tasted majestic. It wasn’t overly satisfying by any means, but it is just cabbage, after all. 

By the time we got to dessert, I was starting to feel dangerously done with veggie food. Is it always this flavourless? Does it ever fill you up? To finish, we tried the salted tahini panna cotta with sesame brittle and crunchy pistachio dust. It looked like it belonged in a museum, but the sugary mixture stuck to the top of my mouth like wallpaper paste and the sesame brittle tasted like burnt caramel. Maybe I am done with veggie food?

Common Ground isn’t somewhere you go for dinner if you want a bit of edge, or if you want a knock-me-off-my-seat and guarantee-next-morning-shits kind of flavour. There was nothing wrong with it: everything tasted nice and looked lovely. It’s a place to go if you want to dine in pretty surroundings, to take photos of your food for the gram, or to really induldge in the summer. Next time? I’d maybe come back for a coffee. 

The vibe Relaxed and neighbourly, like you’ve been invited into someone’s back garden. 

The food A new evening menu of globally-inspired (and mostly plant-based) fairy food. 

The drink Fruity cocktails, sunset-coloured wines, and kimchi bloody marys. 

Time Out tip For the love of God, make sure you get a table outside. 

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

Details

Address:
49 Stroud Green Rd
London
N4 3EF
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