Monday, 22 October 2012
Pizza East Kentish Town
It's all happening round here. Restaurants, bars and shops are opening, pubs being done up and there's a big new French lycée (I hear as much French as English spoken at times, especially at my daughter's ballet school in Dartmouth Park). We have the dynamic Kentishtowner website keeping us updated on all things local. Tufnell Park is a Transition Town and has a weekly market and there's also a comprehensive farmers' market in Parliament Hill. However, something that's whipped people up into a frenzy is the arrival of the Soho House Group at Highgate Studios in NW5 with Pizza East, Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger.
Wary of the hype, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when a friend and I strolled over there a couple of Wednesdays ago. I guessed it would be busy and it was. Heaving, in fact. Both Pizza East and Chicken Shop (in the basement) were rammed, so we left a mobile number with each and went across the road to The Vine (recently revamped) and sipped a zesty Spanish white. After about 20 minutes, Pizza East was the first to call with a table, so we downed our drinks and legged it back across the road. It was interesting to sit down and take a good look at this Lower Manhattan-like airy industrial space and feast our eyes on all the suspended hams and jars of goodies lining the shelves. The space also boasts a large wood-fired oven and a long bar that winds around the room where it would be great to perch for a quick bite. I was tempted by the speck, mozzarella and taleggio pizza – deliciously oozy with a light puffy base – and my friend went for lasagne which she was very happy with. We also ordered a rocket, parmesan and pine nut salad which was surprisingly tasty and we loved the crunchy texture. The only negative point was that our 500ml carafe of gluggable house Sangiovese came with some silly tumblers, rather than stemmed glasses. Call me traditional, but I'd be reluctant to trade up to a smarter wine if these are the only glasses available.
Our charming, helpful (and, I must say, rather good looking) server then offered us the dessert menu and we were tempted into sharing the salted chocolate tart and figs with mascarpone and honeycomb. The tart was good, although it seemed as though the salt had just been sprinkled over the top, whereas the figs were fabulous. I recreated it at home a few days later as it was so gorgeous (although I used a roughly chopped Crunchy Bar instead of home-made honeycomb). Including the wine, our bill came to about £50. Great stuff (despite the annoying glasses).