I had a lovely meal last night at the recently opened Sardine restaurant. It’s located at 15 Micawber Street N1, just off City Road in the Old Street vicinity. Alex Jackson, protégé of Stevie Parle (Dock Kitchen, Rotorino and Craft London), opened this eatery only last week. They dish up good honest food inspired by the regions of Provence, Languedoc, parts of northern Spain and Italy. With simple ingredients and Southern French wood-fire cooking, it’s a winning combination. If you’re looking for restaurants near Old Street or places to eat near City Road, book yourself a table at Sardine restaurant.
“Alex Jackson delivers rustic, hearty and good honest food from the farmhouses of Provence and Languedoc to Londoners in Old Street,” Homegirl London
Sardine Restaurant Menu
The eatery is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dishes are simple with few ingredients and rustic in presentation. The menu is limited, but our party of four (two meat-eaters, a fish eater and a vegetarian) all found something to enjoy. Order a few snacks to get you started. The broad bean toast was yummy, with garlic and mushed broad beans smothered over toast.
Broad Bean Toast
The plate of saucisse seche, which is French dry-cured sausage, was ordered by Robin who raved about it. Homeboy tried the radishes with crème Fraiche and bottarga which is salted cured fish roe. It was a beautiful summery dish to start with. Otherwise, you can order the onion and anchovy tart or olives.
Radishes with Crème Fraiche And Bottega
For starters, there are five options. I tried the Soupe au Pistou, which is similar to pesto ingredients but without the pine nuts. It was very hearty with pieces of courgette and pasta included. Robin and Ness both had the roast quail with a warm olive sauce which they thoroughly enjoyed. This small bird offers up a rich chicken come gamey taste. Other dishes included a niçoise with artichoke, egg, tuna and tomatoes. There were pork and veal stuffed tomato and clams with peas and French dry-cured sausage.
Roast Quail with Warm Olive Sauce
There were five mains. I went for the only veggie option, which thankfully wasn’t tofu! It was girolles with grilled polenta, crème Fraiche and spinach. Girolles are golden chanterelles, a fungus (mushroom) with a funnel shape and meaty texture. The polenta was crispy on the outside, which I love. The combination with the girolles and spinach was excellent. I thought this was a great vegetarian option, it was very satisfying indeed!
Girolles with Grilled Polenta, Crème Fraiche and Spinach
Ness and Homeboy went for the wild sea trout which was served on a bed of flat beans with a dash of aioli. The fish was cooked to perfection and super fresh. This got the thumbs up from both of them. The other fish option was red mullet, bream pastis, courgettes and mussels cooked in a parchment folded pouch. Meat wise it was a lamb a la ficelle which is a south of France recipe where you cook a leg of lamb over an open fire. The leg usually hangs on a string, and it slowly turns, so it’s like a rotisserie. Or you can try the pork collar instead. There were three sides of domino potatoes which were very good, a green salad and ratatouille.
Wild Sea Trout, Flat Beans and Aioli
We shared a couple of desserts, including the apricot and brown butter tart, which had a fantastic crust and was served warm. I wish it was a bigger slice, but then I do like desserts! The chocolate pot with brandy prunes and cream was brilliant. It was a tiny pot with cream on top so at first, I thought it was white chocolate which I am not a big fan of. Luckily I gave it a go, and under the cream, I found the milk chocolate and right at the bottom were the prunes. It was rich and decadent. The other options were a crepe with cherries, plums and apricot kernel ice cream or nougat ice cream with fennel biscuits.
Apricot and Brown Butter Tart
The boys all loved the cheese plate, which had three varieties. Alex Jackson worked at Mons Cheesemongers where he learned about the craft of the affineur (a person who ages or matures cheese). So you are in good hands when you order the cheeseboard here!
You can order a cocktail which includes an Aix Dirty Martini or Midday in Paris. Wine included a selection of sparking (limited), white, red and rose. These were from Puglia, Sardinia, Languedoc and Sicily. There was no bottled water, but you do get filtered tap water. The housemade sodas are worth a try which include a peppermint with lemon or rhubarb with lavender.
Sardine Restaurant Interiors
My friend Robin commented that this venue used to be a night club in a previous life and he should know because he’s been there! The restaurant is actually connected to the art gallery called Parasol. It is just off City Road and situated behind a McDonalds, so you might walk past without noticing. The ceiling to floor window features a neon sign bearing the restaurant’s name so keep your eyes open for that.
Inside through the door, you find a small bar with a couple of stools. The restaurant space is small, although it is the ideal size because it has a cosy feel. There are seats for just over forty people. One side has leather seating which is comfy. This is faced with wooden tables and bistro-style dark wood chairs. In the centre is a long sharing table. The kitchen is open so you can see the chefs at work, which I always find reassuring. Overall the interiors are contemporary yet homely and not in the least bit stuffy. I appreciated the nice cutlery and good quality serviettes. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal with foodie friends for dinner. The service was excellent, and the staff were helpful and friendly.
Sardine Restaurant Information
Cuisine: Rustic food inspired by Provence, Languedoc, northern Spain and Italy
Price: Snacks £2.50-5, starters £7.50-9, mains £14-17, desserts £5.50-7 and cheese board £10
Website: Sardine Restaurant London
Address: 15 Micawber Street, London N1 7TB
Near: City Road and Old Street
Open: Check the website for current opening times
Seating: Around forty covers on one floor
Toilets: Towards the back
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London and Sardine. Thanks: Robin, Ness and Homeboy for the lovely evening. Hannah Norris for sending information and pictures requested.