Trawler Trash

Restaurants, Seafood Canonbury
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 2 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
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Venue says We now have set lunch menus for those on the go, daily specials and seafood brunches.

An Islington seafood restaurant specialising in using unloved catches.

It’s a genius idea. A seafood restaurant dedicated to using unpopular fish, the so-called ‘trash’ of the oceans. When I walk in, I see they’ve taken this approach to sustainability one step further: the site used to be home to a chippie, and they’ve counter-intuitively put the open kitchen in the narrow corridor at the front, on the footprint of the original counter and fryers. Venture further back, where the space opens up, and it’s actually quite glam: white marble tables, moody exposed brickwork and bold blue-hued art on the walls. Lightning is low, the music Mumford & Sons-esque.

So far, so good. And, as I sit down, I’m given a huge carafe of tap water, stuffed with folds of thinly sliced cucumber, followed by a dinky bowl of ‘on the house’ tempura seaweed. These are nice touches. The next two dishes – a zingy salad of charred and impossibly tender cuttlefish with pickled tomatoes; ahead of bijoux parcels of sweet cured herring – were magnificent. But then, abruptly, the sails come off. A ‘trash pie’, made with smoked trout, had only two notes: smoke and salt. Likewise the kipper carbonara had potential, if only it had come with the promised chilli (none detected) and rocket (they substituted kale) described on the menu. Desserts were forgettable. Service was slow.

It’s a pity, because there are moments of greatness at Trawler Trash, and you can’t fault the concept. In the loo, you can hear the faint sound of seagulls cawing, faintly, as if far, far away. If they can match the execution to their idea, this place could just about rule the waves.

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Trawler Trash says
Trawler Trash is a modern fish restaurant serving all day dining and weekend brunch from May 2017. We're honouring British, seasonal produce whilst keeping lesser known fish and the environmental impact of irresponsible fishing at front of mind, making waves in the process.

The Trawler Trash menu is devised around the “trash” of the trawler men, the kitchen uses the best quality ingredients to create a globally inspired seafood menu, using the lesser known treasures of the sea that often get disregarded in favour of the traditional catch. The dining style offers a wide selection of small plates for sharing and main dishes to promote a relaxed social dining experience. All washed down with Trawler cocktails, wines and London beers.
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By: Tania Ballantine


Venue name: Trawler Trash
Address: 205 Upper St
N1 1RQ
Transport: Tube: Highbury & Islington
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £90
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Average User Rating

1.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 1 star:2
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I wanted to like this place so badly. 

I love their ethos, love their style, online and in interior decoration. I love fish and seafood so a place specialising in that seemed great. Love the focus on local unused fish etc.

Maybe this passion and excitement for the place only lead to it being a let down... I came on their opening night, so while the staff were a little stressed and slow its totally understandable, and our waitress was really nice. They have an awesome selection of beer all locally brewed and I finally got to try Toast IPA from Bethnal Green which is beer brewed from left over bread, and that was really nice.

However our first warning sign. The house white wine was horrible (worse than a house Weatherspoons white wine). They then gave us some free fried seaweed which was really nice (I love sea weed) if anything though it could be more salty, which is strange for seaweed.

We then had starters which were nice but very small portions. I feel for the price you are paying (and considering the whole point of this restaurant is to use the cheaper produce that no one wants) the portion size could be slightly bigger.

Then the real disappointment - the main courses. We had the fish and chips and the trash pie (a fish pie). The fish and chips were just an average fish and chips, nothing special like I hoped (other than it being coley rather than cod) but the real problem was the pie. While it looked delicious which is why we picked it, it had a seriously overpowering flavour of tarragon - so powerful it tasted like sambuca aniseed flavour. Neither of us could finish it. When asked if it was alright I explained about the flavour and the waiter apologised, but did not offer any form of discount. Maybe we just got an unlucky pie, but I won't be coming back here.

tl;dr I loved everything about this place apart from the food...

I would struggle to review how the food was because I didn't make it that far before deciding to leave due to terrible service.

Upon arrival I had to show my confirmation email for my reservation as it couldn't be found. After taking a seat we were told that we may have to move later as someone had the table reserved for an hour later. We were a bit confused because we had a reservation too and the restaurant was empty. 

We then ordered a bottle of wine and some water. This happened to be towards the lower price range of the wines but would supposedly go with everything, something we wanted as we planned on sampling quite a bit of the food. We were told that they didn't have this wine in stock as they had only just got their license. We then asked for another crisp white wine only to be told that this too was out of stock. While the waiter went away to find out what wines were actually available we were given a bowl of something green and crispy which was pleasant enough but I'm not sure what it was (battered seaweed?) and we still hadn't been given any water. The waiter returned to let us know which wines were available and chose one slightly more expensive bottle. Upon returning with the bottle he told us that they only had one bottle. We were told that this had been opened but none of the wine had been poured and it had been sealed with an wine saver stopper. We asked whether we would be getting a discount for accepting an open bottle of wine to which we were given a firm no and told that we could choose one of the other bottles (which coincidentally cost about £10 more) if we wanted. It was at this point we decided to call it and left as it felt like an uphill battle to get a bottle of wine, never mind the prospect of having to move mid meal or ask the somewhat confused staff any questions about the menu.

All in all this was a pretty disastrous visit which is a real shame as all of us worked in environmental sustainability and were really interested in what the menu could offer with such an interesting concept. However, the attitude and quality of service ranging from non-existent to confusingly bad really put me off giving this place another go until I see something to change my mind.


This place has a good ethos, but does the philosophy translate right down to the establishment? 

What we had: 

  • Jersey oysters
  • Air dried charred octopus with green tomatoes, dill and chilli
  • Kipper carbonara, peas, rocket and chilli
  • Trash Pie with greens
  • Pan roasted Hake with cauliflower, wild mushrooms and puy lentil vinaigrette

We all complimented on the interior, it’s modern with great nautical detailing right down to the little gold swirled screws in the metal paneling. The food and portion size here was quite good - the oysters were fresh (though I would say they require a little more attention with cleaning), and the octopus tender and herbaceous. The kipper carbonara had a lovely smokiness to it and was creamy without being too heavy. The Trash Pie, a fish pie with mash potato topping was presented nicely and had a good flavour. My only criticism here is that I would have preferred pieces of fish or seafood within it rather than it all broken up; it also required some seasoning of salt. The hake was cooked nicely, not overdone and went well with the lentil vinaigrette. The service, however, was a little disappointing. The food came a little slow, there was no explanation of the menu or the philosophy driving the establishment, and one of the waiters was abrupt, stressed and disjointed despite there not being many tables as it was lunch time. Overall there are definitely areas of improvement in regards to service; however the food and interior are largely on the right track.

Tip: they have a fish focused brunch menu that will be available from next week.

Good For: work lunch/dinner, date night, catch up with friends, small groups.

We were so disappointed in this restaurant, we totally bought in to the idea of sustainability and interesting different fish that we may not have tried before. However, there was no mention of this once we arrived, the service was haphazard, the person at the front seemed ok but then proceeded to ball out another member of staff swearing at him directly behind our table. They only had white or red wine, or IPA so we had the dubious white wine.

My meal of gurnard was not chargrilled as it said on the menu, it was also badly over cooked and the broccoli was just mush. Added to this they forgot to add the anchovies, the main reason I ordered this dish, and only produced three in a side dish when I asked about this, poor.

My wife's meal turned up so late that I had already finished attempting to eat my meal and whilst the mussels were ok, I believe, there is nothing interesting about farmed mussels. When our waiter asked us to be honest about the food I explained my issues with the fish and vegetables, he apologised and said he would speak to the chef, I watched him until we left and he never said a word. So let down by a place I thought I'd love, ten minutes walk from my house, but do not believe the hype, it is a poor fish restaurant and they are not eco warriors.