Rök's newest location in Islington
Category : Bar, Restaurant
| Cuisine : Nordic
Address : 149 Upper St, Islington, London , N1 1RA, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.roklondon.co.uk/islington
Opening Times : Mon-Sun: 12 — 12PM
Closest Tube : Angel, Highbury & Islington, Essex Road
Our visit to the original Rök earlier this year left an impression. Other food writers that we've spoken with have power-ranked it in their top 5 restaurants of the year, and for laidback dining with a difference, we'd have to strongly agree. There's something special going on at Rök - a New Nordic bolthole where everything tends to be brined, pickled, fermented and wood-fired. And this has been carried over to the new site on Upper Street.
The Grade II listed building is not nearly as tight and cloistered as the original, however there are similar nooks and crannies and it carries across the monochrome colour scheme. We were seated in a little alcove in the centre of the dining room - a long winding affair seating 60 people that wends its way up to a raised open plan kitchen that almost resembles a pulpit. Behind its chopped wood façade chefs cook over smoking logs.
We kicked things off with a couple of savvy cocktails given the signature Rök touch. A whiskey sour crafted with bourbon and rye was given charcoal ballast by a smoked syrup while a Negroni was offered a bit of funk, mixed with gin, Punt e Mes, sweet vermouth and grapefruit bitters.
We couldn't help ourselves and ordered a slew of our favourite starters from the Shoreditch branch, including cucumber and gin pickles, mussels cooked in Wu Gang Chops the Tree wheat beer, and a scallop cooked in the shell with nduja and curried seaweed. All were beautifully done, but the latter is really a force of nature and a must-order dish. We'd be tempted to return and order ten of these…
We branched out a bit with our mains, ordering a leg of guinea fowl prepared with pickled mushrooms, sea purslane and cured pork that was ineffably brilliant. Little porcine flavour bombs teased out the character of the game, and the broth was a delight to sop up with smoky sourdough crosshatched on the grill. Rare steak was served sliced with cow's curd and a soft herb vinegar, which was good but perhaps not as much as a side of blackened cabbage with nor rice, macadamia and vasterbottensost - a hard Swedish cheese.
We wrapped up the meal with 40ft pale ale peanut butter ice cream and a dark chocolate mousse, which was a work of staggering indulgence. By the end on the meal we were deeply satisfied. Rök is that kind of lover that knows how to push all the right buttons.