We came here with a Bookatable deal, and what great value! We got 2 courses and a glass of prosecco for 20 pounds, and on a Saturday night! This place is very upscale and I was impressed when I first stepped through the door. The tables spaced far apart, so perfect for conversation, and there is a cool open kitchen at the back so you can see everything going on.
The food was great. I had the saute of snails for a starter, which was beautifully presented, and the chicken jambonette for a main, and really enjoyed that too. One of my friends is lactose intolerant and the staff went above and beyond to accommodate her, redoing a cream sauce on the first course and mash potatoes on the second.
We sat at the table for ages after our meal and they never pressured us to leave or anything. Most of the restaurants in Islington are always packed and full of young people, whereas the diners here were an older crowd and a lot of them headed for the theatre. Such a nice atmosphere, could totally see this as a great place to take family or even a work dinner.
The restaurant deserves 4 stars because it had outstanding food, nice atmosphere, and pretty reasonable service. I was in a large party (about 18) and I thought they did pretty poorly at getting things onto the table in a reasonable time. We arrived about 19:30 and dinner dinner finished about 22:45. A bit longer than I'd like. The food was very tasty. And the staff were friendly, and good. I expect the restaurant is probably very good for smaller table sizes. But I have a hard time endorsing it for a large party like ours.
Situated in the always busy Upper St, Almeida brings the best of Frech cooking to the dinners busy Islington. Smoked Salmon starter was superb and presented to the highest standards.
Fancy and posh but still with a relax ambiance that will let you enjoy the meal and have a few glasses of wine from their impressive list.
Last year, at the Wine Show in Islington's Business Design Centre, I got a little "carried away" and purchased a yearly subscription to Taste London for £40 (reduced from £70 @ the Show). The membership card gives you 50% off the food bill (or 2 for 1) in all participating restaurants.
The catch is that the majority of restaurants will not take the card on Fridays and Saturdays, and I suspect that some of the restaurants are only there because they are struggling to find custom (with all the risks that entails).
This year, I decided to try and recoup my initial investment by visiting the restaurants which I know are reputedly good like The Almeida, Gay Hussar and The Admiralty. So last week, Dr G and I returned to our local French restaurant, The Almeida.
I had dined at this restaurant before but had always gone for their pre/post theatre menus. I remember having the most delicious Cassoulet there and so I was craving for another helping.
On arrival, I was gutted to find that their legendary Cassoulet was no longer on the menu. The menu had been substantially trimmed (not a bad thing) and included 8 choices each for starters, main and desserts. The menus were priced @ £27.50 and £32.50 for 2 and 3 courses respectively.
To start, I ordered the "Terrine of duck foie gras, apple and walnuts with toasted fig bread". I was impressed by the generous portion of duck foie gras served, and pleased with the quality - it was beautifully marbled and tasted buttery and totally divine.
Dr G decided to go for the "Trolley of Charcuterie" which included saucisson sec, rosette, coppa and Bayonne ham, chicken liver parfait and rillette maison (made of pork).
This was unfortunately disappointing - the cold meats tasted good but were nothing to write home about, the chicken liver parfait had a liquid consistency and did not taste particularly nice, and the pork rillete, although well seasoned, was a tad dry.
For main, I had the "Grilled aged British rib-eye, pommes Pont Neuf (chunky chips basically) & sauce Bearnaise".
Considering the additional £3.50 charge for this option, I was surprised to find a rather small and thin steak on my plate. The meat however tasted very good and was perfectly cooked, rare as I had ordered. The Bearnaise sauce was also excellent but again, there wasn't much of it.
The other main was the "Slow roast belly of suckling pig, confit root vegetables, creamed Savoy cabbage, and sauce aux epices (spicy sauce). This was also excellent, the meat was incredibly tender and the crackling was beautifully caramelised, crisp and very thin. The accompanying sauce was complex and mildly spicy with delicate flavours of saffron and curry.
Unfortunately, the waitress carelessly tilted the plate as she placed it on our table which didn't help with the presentation of the dish. I felt that service was overall polite but impersonal, and inattentive at times.
For pudding, we shared a "Valrhona extra bitter chocolate soufflé, with salt caramel ice cream" and "Creme Brulee with warm Madeleine".
The soufflé was a tad sweet for an extra bitter chocolate variety, but it was very light and tasted good accompanied by the salt caramel ice cream. In fact, I enjoyed the ice cream more than I did the soufflé itself.
The crème brulee was utterly delicious - it had a delicate vanilla flavour and perfect consistency (neither too hard nor too liquid).
We ordered one of the least expensive bottles of wine @ £21 which we felt was overpriced. After Taste London's 50% reduction on the food, the total bill came to £61. Service is not added to the bill but left at customers' discretion which is praiseworthy for a restaurant of this calibre.
As with any other D&D restaurant (former Conran), I feel prices are inflated and I would have been annoyed had I paid the full whack, around £100, for this meal. This might explain the countless newspaper offers, the more affordable pre/post theatre menus, and their Taste London participation.
Verdict - Good quality French food and wine at inflated prices. Polite but inattentive service. A good and affordable choice for pre or post theatre dining in Islington.
I came here for a pre theatre meal before heading across the road to the Almeida Theatre. Unlike the play which followed the meal can only be described as an extreme disappointment. I should have realised that it was going to be a let down when it became apparent that our poor waitress was having to look after half the restaurant. Consequently, she was rushed off her feet and it was simply not possible for her to deliver service at an adequate level.
Problems started immediately. The bread basket was thrust into our faces with no explanation as to its content. We were then rushed into ordering our food before we had even had the opportunity to look at the wine list. Inevitably this meant that our starters arrived well before our wine. When the wine did arrive (a half of white) the entire bottle was immediately divided into our glasses meaning that i) we were both served too much wine and ii) the wine would heat up before it was drunk. Finally, our amuse bouche arrived between our starter and our main course - what is that about?
The food itself was adequate but very bland - of the kind which appears to have been designed with the sole goal of offending no-one as opposed to actually delivering a frisson of excitement or flavour. It is telling, I think, that everyone who has reviewed the restaurant so far came here on a deal of some kind deal. Thank goodness - paying a la carte prices for the food/service on offer here would be nothing short of criminal.
Before the Almedia refurbished - it's now re-opened in early 2008 - it was one of my favourite restaurants. It's just opposite the nicest part of Upper Street, the food was usually flawless, the service was attentive, and you could escape without having to take out a second mortgage.
Sadly, for a curmudgeon like myself, the refurb seems to have done nothing to dampen either the cooking or the atmosphere. It's still a pleasant, welcoming place, if you can ignore the gruesome hunk of art behind my dinner companion (apparently the unholy lovechild from an orgy featuring Rothko, Pollock and a chimp). And the food is still bloody good.
We both passed over the tempting and much-vaunted plate of charcuterie to start, with my partner proclaiming the foie gras a triumph and myself steadfastly refusing to share my Cornish crab. To be fair, the portion could have been a little bigger. But my main of Anjou squab was spectacular and I barely had room to stuff down my blood orange sorbet. I'm told the suckling pig and creme brulee was excellent but you'll have to take my partner's word for it. I didn't get a sniff of either.
So, still every bit as good as I remember. I know 5 stars is a bit of a stellar rating: please bear in mind that the crucial final half a star or so is awarded strictly because I'm able to walk home from this place in 10 minutes. If you live in Wandsworth, you might think the cab fare a little prohibitive for a genuine 5-star evening. To which I can only say well, if you WILL live South of the River.
Tucked just off Upper Street, the Almeida is a long-standing Islington eaterie with a loyal clientele. The interior has recently been refurbished and now features lots of plain cream walls, oak and modern art, delivering a pleasantly unfussy and unpretentious dining space. Formerly owned by the Conran group, it is now part of the D&D restaurant chain following a management buy-out in 2006.
The food is broadly French brasserie in style, with a varied selection of meat (including offal), seafood and some vegetarian items (there's a vegetarian menu available on request - a nice touch often lacking in French restaurants). The quality of the cooking is excellent, although the portions go for quality rather than quantity - the French influence means that main courses are low on carbohydrates, so if you like British quantities of starch it's best to order some additional sides of veg. The upside of this is that you have room for dessert, and I for one quite like leaving a restaurant feeling satisfied rather than stuffed. On my most recent visit, the steaks, suckling pig and scallops were all very highly praised. My main - a pithivier (puff-pastry pie) of St Maure cheese with pumpkin and grilled winter salad was delicate and delicious.
A high point is the wine list, which is superb. The choice ranges from perfectly acceptable (and affordable) house wines at £14.50 to an eye-watering 1999 Burgundy at £425. The full wine list features a good selection in the £25-£50 range. The best way to sample the food is to try one of the set menus at lunchtime and pre- and post-theatre, at £14.50 for two courses: otherwise, the 'fixed-price a la carte' dinner menu is £25 for two courses, £29.50 for three. Service charge of 12.5% is added on top, so expect a meal for two with wine and coffee to come to around £50 a head.
The service is one area where the Almeida's reputation is rather mixed, although I have never had any problems, and the waiter on my last visit could not have been more helpful. It's worth booking ahead in the evening - this can be done via their web-site.
Awesome restaurant (best in Islington?) with a brilliant head chef. It's a beauty too!
I had the good fortune of trying their seven-course chocolate seasonal menu (londonist.com/2008/10/pa…) (with chocolate and inspiration provided by chocolatier, Paul A Young (qype.co.uk/search/find?q…) ), during the recent Chocolate Week (london.blog.qype.com/?p=…) . What impressed me most was how they managed to incorporated chocolate into all their courses without the meal being gimmicky. The bream with cocoa nibs was particularly memorable.
It's just a matter of time before I head back to this wonderful restaurant. I really look forward to trying Almeida's regular menu!
What a beautiful restaurant! I was actually here for a wedding reception at the weekend, and the staff we nothing but charming and friendly, and food and wine incredibly tasty. It's not the typical restaurant experience (and I have no idea of costs), but I wouldn't think twice about coming back to try out the a la carte menu.
Tucked away opposite the Almeida theatre, you're a little way off Upper Street so you don't get all the street noise. We arrived just before 5, and the staff stayed perky and upbeat throughout the evening. Impressive given that we were no doubt becoming louder and more annoying as the drinks flowed.
Food was french-inspired, with a modern twist, and you can see into the kitchen a little bit as well, I'm always a fan of that. Duck breast starter was a hit. As was the passion fruit tart which I decided to steal from my friend's plate as it was nicer than my chocolate tart.
Dancing continued until midnight and ended with my falling over outside as I left. Always the sign of a good evening when you wake up with grazed knees.
Restaurants on Upper Street are always hit and miss, ranging form the damn excellent to boring and tacky chains. The Almeida falls in very firmly into the former camp. Go.
The charcuterie was such a treat, they roll a big trolley over to your table with a selection of pates, terrines and other meaty nibbles and you can either pick a couple of have a little bit of everything. Being such inquisitive souls we opted for the everything sampler plates and it was lovely. Plus it also filled us up nicely before the main course so we didn't feel the need to venture into the desert menu (which looked fantastic but I could feel my arteries clogging just reading it!).
All very rustic Frech fare, cooked beautifully. The only down side is the slightly lacklustre decor which is match by the slightly stuffy clientele.
We had a special meal deal via the Evening Standard and were expecting a very limited menu for £15 for 2 courses and a glass of champers. In fact, it was as good as the a la carte menu and the restaurant was filled with people on the Promotional Fixed Menu!!
The food is modern french cuisine, with to-die for' pudding or cheeses at the end.
The wine list is extensive, but surprisingly good value.
We commented to the Manager that it was good to see the restaurant so full, especially on the day Anthony Worral-Thompson announced his closures. We both agreed that it's better to have the restaurant full, even if people are paying £14 for 2 courses, than to stick to the expensive menus of pre-credit crunch.
Wonderful to see the Almeida moving with the times. Overall, a lovely night out, great food for the price and a buzzy, friendly atmosphere.
Came here with a Top Table deal, which made it really good value! Without the deal, probably would have dropped to a 3 star review.
Smoked salmon appetizer was really good, but I have had better duck (main). Service was very good, and the atmosphere was the right balance between laid back and elegant, if a little quiet.
I went to Almeida through a special offer on toptable, which is always a good way if sampling more expensive restaurants! Less risk! And then you will no doubt return if they have managed to convince you.
Well, the Almeida certainly did that - I have been back several times. The restaurant itself is very beautiful, with nice clean lines and a minimalist feel without being pretentious. The service is absolutely brilliant. I felt looked after by the attentive waiter, without being smothered.
And the delicious food too! I especially enjoyed the cucumber jelly dish (I iwish I could remember what it was called, because my description makes it sound awful!).
Anyway, catch a show and eat at the restaurant. Do it!
This place is always surprisingly good. They serve stuff like quiche and salad and I'm not a quiche and salad kind of a guy, how many guys are? But it was excellent. Perfect, even.
To tell you the truth I can't remember exactly what else I've eaten here, when I've eaten here, but what I do know is that we always wax lyrical about it. I love the laid back atmosphere and the wide open sliding windows onto the sunny street (it always seems to be sunny when I visit Islington, high up there on that hill, or maybe it's my imagination).
One time they were rehearsing a play in the theatre and we wandered in to see what was going on and were shooed away, so that was fun. Another time the cast from a rehearsal poured into the cafe. Quite a few recognisable faces and a sort of thespian frisson of excitement they brought with them.
Lots of atmosphere. Cool and laid back and always surprisingly well prepared, good quality food at a reasonable price. An Islington fave and easily over-looked, tucked down that little side street at the side of the theatre.
All I can say is excellent! There are already some detailed reviews about the menu etc. so I'll try not to bore everyone with too much gushing. Basically, the choice is decent (real French cuisine rather than generic dishes) but what makes the Almeida stand out is the quality of the ingredients.
My Cornish crab starter tasted as though it had been plucked from the sea a mere moment before and the mains and pudding were just as excellent and Ill recommend the creme brulee just for the amazing little madeline cake that comes with it
Service is lovely - attentive and rather sweet. When we said we would share a desert, they thoughtfully bought two little plates as well as extra cutlery.
£25 for 2 courses and a wine list that includes with some tasty but affordable vintages (and the option of getting a carafe - about 2/3 of a bottle - just like they do in France) means the price isn't half bad for the quality, either.
I last went here before its recent refit. This is classic French dining. The restaurant is pleasantly airy with lots of space between tables so you don't feel cramped. That's a real plus in my book. The service was quite possibly (outside of the Ivy) some of the best I've had in London. It's that kind of service where someone is always attentive and aware of what your needs but never overbearing. The food is also just quality Steak tartare was really tasty, lamb incredible. And really, it's not at all bad value when you compare it to venues of a similar caliber.
if it's good enough for Cesc Fabregas it's good enough for any of us. the food is confident without being brash and manages to exert a quiet assurance that fits throughout the entire restaurant. what one has to remember about this place is that it's simply a local restaurant so the fact that it manages to churn out these superb meals that most places in the west end would be proud of. what i like the most is the celeriac remoulade - for some reason it has more zing than in other places. the wine list is excellent although D&D need to work more on their descriptives. theyre a bit prosaic.
I went here on a Tuesday night, and it was fairly quiet. I came with a Toptable offer- 2 courses and a cocktail for 23.50 a person. I ordered the smoked salmon starter, which was nicely presented and good, but not something unique or special. My friend ordered the pork cheek, which was cooked very well and delicious. I, on the other hand, ordered the panfried hake. The fish was cooked fairly well, but the portion was very small. I couldn't help but feel that something was missing. The restaurant has a nice ambience and service is very good and attentive. If you're in the area or in a rush for the theatre, then try Almeida but it's nothing to rush to or write home about.
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