Several months ago, my friend and I stumbled upon a quaint fishmongers just down the road from Highbury Barn. A stunning display of shiny eyed fresh fish and colourful shellfish was arranged on ice in the window and we couldn’t help but go inside, where we discovered that is was not just a fishmonger, but also a restaurant serving small plates and fine wines. That night, we enjoyed a beautiful piece of monkfish that had been expertly prepped by their fishmongers, and we decided we had to go back for dinner. Months later, we still hadn’t been. But last week, we finally returned – not quite to the same place, but just down the road to the restaurant’s new and bigger space.
Entering the restaurant, a hum of spice and herb filled the air with a mouthwatering scent. Cosy seating, wooden shelves and an open kitchen gave the restaurant a friendly feel, as did the cheery waiters.
Of late, I have been ticking so-called “adventurous” foods off my bucket list and today was the day for oysters. I love seafood and tend to choose it over meat and fish. However, I had still never eaten an oyster. I couldn’t get my head around the thought of swallowing a raw mollusc whole. What was the point – surely you would taste nothing? I was wrong. The jersey rock oysters (£2 each) left a minerality that bounced off the tongue and was layered with flavour when paired with a tangy balsamic-shallot vinaigrette and zing of lemon.
The dishes arrived perfectly timed, one after another rather than all at once, so we could enjoy each dish and its individual flavours alone with no need to rush.
We started with a cold dish: crab salad (£9.00) with seaweed and spirallised daikon and cucumber in a nutty sesame dressing – a brilliant balance.
Next came soft, charred scallops (£12.00) served in their clean white shells and lavished in a silky coriander sauce.
The ray wing (£8.50), marinated in curry spices and coriander, and sprinkled with roasted crushed peanuts, was a wonderful mix of soft meat and crunch. The fragrant marinade added “punch” to an otherwise mild fish, while still allowing its delicate earthy flavour to be tasted.
Our final dish was a bowl of mussels and clams (£10.00), gently steamed to a wonderfully soft texture, then lavished in plenty of silky, salty butter.
Although not the star of the show, the side dishes are far an afterthought. A bowl of tomato and tarragon salad (£4.00) with mixed leaves, dressed in a sweet balsamic and garlic dressing was a welcome interlude between dishes.
It’s difficult to choose one glass of wine that will go with every dish when eating a selection of sharing plates. However, a glass of French Picpoul de Pinet, with its bright, green nose and balanced acidity, was a fine choice.
Prawn on the Lawn
292 – 294 St Paul’s Rd
T: 020 3302 8668
Open 10:00 – 00:00 Tues-Sat; closed Sun & Mon