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Restaurants, French Hoxton
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
© Andy Parsons
© Andy Parsons

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A Mediterranean restaurant from an ex-Rotorino head chef.

Mesdames et messieurs! Je vous présente… Alex Jackson. A 31-year-old chef trained by the brilliant Stevie Parle (Dock Kitchen, Rotorino, Craft). Sardine, a small, clean-lined restaurant within a Hoxton gallery space, is his debut. In it, he’s cooking rustic food, mostly from Provence. Is he even French? Mais non. Does it matter? Pas du tout. Jackson loves southern French food – he spent his ‘year out’ there – and has natural talent. (Turns out he ‘fell into cooking’ by accident, having originally joined Dock Kitchen at the front of house, as the friend of a friend). 

At the back of the open kitchen hangs the signature dish: lamb ‘à la ficelle’. ‘Ficelle’ means ‘string’: this is literally ‘string-turned’ lamb. A fat leg dangles above a wood fire and cooks slowly, on all sides. Once roasted, it’s raised and kept warm over the oak embers, with slices carved off ‘on demand’. I know what you’re thinking: medieval kebab. Only without the mystery meat.  And no wrinkly pickled chilli. Just a heap of creamy white beans and blobs of salsa verde. This is peasant food at its best: uncomplicated, full-flavoured and joyous. 

Starters were equally memorable. A bowl of soupy clams came studded with shards of dry cured sausage, fat garden peas and alternate hits of garlic and thyme. Roast quail, its charred, spindly legs waving in the air, came smothered in a gloriously gutsy olive and anchovy sauce. Even the sides – a satisfying ratatouille, every slow-cooked vegetable melting into the next, or the ‘domino’ potatoes, a moreish stack of baked tattie slices with crunchy edges and soft middles – spoke of sunshine and simple pleasures. 

But every summer has to end and this one did too. A crêpe was accompanied by watery, flavourless cherries, while a not-as-interesting-as-it-sounded apricot kernel ice cream was another washout. 

Still, there’s plenty to love about this little fish. High ceilings and white walls with a specially commissioned mural give it the air of an intimate art space, rather than the gallery’s former office. 

The team is young and enthusiastic, your fellow diners vibrant Silicone Roundabout types (smart, creative, solvent). There’s Viognier on tap: how cool is that? For the first restaurant of a man who only a few years back didn’t even realise he could cook – c’est pas mal. Bravo, Monsieur Jackson, bravo.


Address: 15 Micawber Street
N1 7TB
Transport: Tube: Old St
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £105.
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Users say (3)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
2 people listening

I lived very close to Rotorino for several years and became a massive Stevie Parle fan, so was very excited when a friend announced they had booked Sardine for their birthday.  Eager to see what the ex head chef has been up too. Well I can only say he has been doing a stellar job, the food speaks for itself, simplistic modern fresh and fun. You can book the long main table for large birthday groups and have an amazing set menu prepared, avoiding all that annoying bill sharing at the end of the night. 


We enjoyed every single thing we tried on the menu.  Usually ingredients that aren't automatically my first choice: anchovies, broad beans, etc. were made to be so tasty that I enjoyed them! We started off wanting to go for just a couple of dishes, but were spoiled for choice and shared plates from almost every part of the menu.  The only downside was not having space for dessert!

The anchovy tart starter was so soft it melted in your mouth. We had a homemade pesto and pasta first and then shared some of the meat mains. We will definitely be going back and I can see why this place has been ranked as one of the best new restaurants in London by hot dinners.

Book ahead so you don't miss out, and enjoy the great food and exceptional service!

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