Top 4 'I-may-be-broke-but-I-got-style' Cheap Eats
Written by: Eleanor Mitchell
North London has a wealth of great neighbourhood eateries where you can dine out on a tight budget and still come away with full, happy bellies. Get stuffed for £15 or less!
Le Mercury Deuxieme
Best for: Cheap Chic
This Upper Street stalwart (and its big sister Le Mercury) has been dishing out fabulous no-frills French bistro cooking for over 30 years, but still deserves to claim top spot in any cheap eats list. All the Gallic classics are represented: terrine, moules mariniere, entrecote, tarte tatin at an incredibly generous pricing system of £4.45 for starters, £10.95 for mains and £3.45 for desserts. There’s also a great wine list, with most bottles under £20. The atmosphere is always buzzing, with locals and in-the-know-tourists coming to enjoy the relaxed but attentive service and comforting cooking.
We had: roast breast of Barbary duck, garlic potato purée, savoy cabbage with a red wine jus and rib-eye steak with a shallot sauce. The steak was huge and served with a rich thick onion-y sauce (a perfectly-dressed green salad was a mere £1.95 extra) and the duck was melt-in-the-mouth tender and complemented perfectly by the garlic mash. Two tarte tatins for dessert left us feeling like cats who had got the cream.
Pennies rating: 5/5, fantastic food, lovely service and genuine value-for-money.
Le Mercury Deuxieme, 154-155 Upper St, N1 1RA
The Front Room Café
Best for: Bargain Brunch
Tucked away off the main Stroud Green drag and a short walk from Finsbury Park, The Front Room is a community café with a staunch local following. Decked out like an eccentric granny’s living room, with trinkets galore and a collection of local artists’ work on the exposed brick walls, you feel like you’re having breakfast in your own home. The menu covers all the brunch basics; Eggs Royale to Granola to Beans on Toast, and serves freshly squeezed OJ and Allpress coffee alongside. For something a little heartier, they also have a favourites menu with Bangers and Mash, Burgers and Croque Monsieur.
We had: a Croque Madame and a Front Room Breakfast, both classic and filling. The Croque had the ultimate ‘cheese melt factor’, was pleasingly fried in butter with a perfectly runny egg on top and the most gooey-est of cheese – so rich it hides its money in an offshore account and hired Elton John to sing at its birthday party.
Pennies rating: 3.5/5, great no-frills brunch.
The Front Room Cafe, 158 Tollington Park, N4 3AD
Best for: a curry (obviously)
Rasa has a lot going for it, probably starting with its bright pink exterior that makes it stand out against the drab estate agents of Stoke Newington Church Street. But Rasa is also one of the few places that serves truly authentic South Indian food. It’s also completely vegetarian, but manages to make going meat-free the most natural and delicious decision you’ve ever made. The menu is huge and varied, but the standout dishes are the Dosa, served with vibrant coconut chutney and sambar (lentil and vegetable sauce). Rasa is the perfect place for a can’t-be-arsed-to-cook night out, and will leave you full to bursting and still with change from £30.
We had: obligatory pre-meal snacks and pickles – top choices being the Achappam (crunchy fried rice flour and coconut) and a zesty lemon pickle. We then shared a classic Masala Dosa and Masala Vadai, which are spiced lentil cakes served with chutney. For mains we had Thakkali curry, which is a tangy mix of fresh tomatoes, yoghurt, ginger and coriander and a Uzhunappam – flatbread with roasted coconut and cumin.
Pennies rating: 4/5, cheap as chips and curry sauce, a perfect antidote to those CBA evenings.
Rasa, 55 Stoke Newington Church St, N16 0AR
Salvation in Noodles
Best for: Crippling Hangovers
Not sure about everyone else, but Vietnamese food really cures a hangover. So it was a real blessing when Salvation In Noodles opened on Blackstock Road in Finsbury Park, serving up bowls of steaming pho and virtuous noodle salads. Their authentic Vietnamese offering has a modern twist in the form of an excellently crafted cocktail menu and a happy hour, for those times when only the hair of the dog will do.
We had: Pork and mushroom fried spring rolls (Cha Gio) to start, addictive crispy fried coating with a succulent pork filling. The summer rolls are also highly commended, but sometimes only a bit of deep fried action will hit the spot. To follow, Bun Bo Hue, rare beef and prawns in a fragrant hot and spicy lemongrass soup. The chilli hits the back of your throat with a punch, but soon burns away the lingering fogginess of the demon drink. The Pho Dac is also delicious; rich oxtail broth hides the holy trinity of pork, beef and chicken, when you need to satiate a horrible hangover.
Pennies rating: 4.5/5, food is just under £15 but the cocktails soon add up if you aren’t careful, so hands where we can see them drunky.
Salvation in Noodles, 2 Blackstock Road, N4 2DL
Hivemind are coming to the Hen and Chickens Theatre this Summer with a cracker of an innovative show. Three directors try to win over the audience with improvised stories acted out by the rest of the Hivemind cast on the spur of the moment. As each scene ends you decide whether to “stick” and see where the story goes or “twist” and let the next director take over. The director who ends up with the least scenes acted out has to pay a ‘terrible forfeit’. Told you it was harsh.
We have been wondering whether or not to share this secret gem with you for a while now. Having walked past Cazenove Road on many a drunken occasion, we’d spotted The Lacy Nook A Board luring us inwards with a siren’s call of cocktails and beer garden. But unfortunately we’d get the timing all wrong and they’d rarely be open. “Closed at 4am! How ludicrous?” we’d holler, slurring and swaying up the road. Until now. Opening last year, The Lacy Nook is a collaboration between two friends who turned to Kickstarter to help them achieve this culinary dream . Think small and large plates of fusion Balkan BBQ, salads and carpaccio alongside
This year, Playing Up have commissioned a new play by Sophie Ellerby (HighTide First Commissions Writer and NYT REP Company 2013), Three, which will be staged at the Arcola Theatre from 20th to 22nd July. The urban and domestic drama, directed by NYT Associate Director Anna Niland follows three sisters who fight to keep track of reality as their world is turned upside down.
Tonight, on this dull yet sweaty Monday, what you may well need is to show your confectionary based fillings to the ceiling and let it all out with a huge bellowing guffaw about nothing in particular. Let the likes of quick witted Josie Long, surreal twosome Max and Ivan and the downright uproarious Tom Parry help you escape the chocolate lacking reality of 2017.
Registered charity, All Dogs Matter are a dog rehoming centre based in Archway. They use a mixture of foster homes and kennel spaces to house their dogs, who are each looking to be fostered or adopted. Occasionally we look through their profiles of beautiful singletons looking for love and feature one at random. We interviewed one newly single lady in particular called Lottie. A fun spirited character with smooth hair and a huge grin, Lottie was a right laugh.
Next Sunday it’s the Cally Road Jumble Trail, run by the community. Think a car boot sale but on the street with vintage clothing, accessories, toys, original creations and cakes if you’re lucky. The whole of the trail is set up online over at jumbletrail.com where visitors get a colour coded map to explore and discover all the hidden treasures on offer from your neighbourhood.
You’ve got your socks pulled up but no Cliff Richard in sight. You’re all white shorted up with nowhere to go. It’s time to find out where your white headbanded self will fit in. Here's our top four Wimbledon screening hang outs to try this Summer.
Until five minutes ago I would’ve believed Pet Nat was a holistic dog food brand / veterinary business in Wood Green. I’m half right actually*, but in the boozios world it’s a fizzy wine. Pétillant Naturel is light and fizzy, usually pretty low on the alcohol scale and rather sweet. Think the opposite of a dry red wine.
Abney Public Hall is hosting a market of world food delicacies next weekend, having gathered together the creme de la creme of planet Earth’s cuisine. Prepare for a mass fusion of cultures, great food, drink and music just off Stoke Newington Church Street.
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Poop poop! Get your driving gloves on and tweed jackets ready, for Toady has invited us down to Toad Hall for a banquet on the riverbank. Join The Literary Hour for their all new immersive supper club experience this Summer. It’s the eighth in their series of book themed events with multi-sensory five course meals featuring additional surprises… Ooh ratty!
Every last Thursday of the month a motley crew of performing acts shuffle off to the skinny little Moustache Bar on Stoke Newington Road for a night of microphone hogging. It’s Open Mic night and the stage isn’t just available to acoustic guitar yielding crooners. The floor is open for all you comedians, rappers, poets, hell even actors are welcome to come tread the boards at Moustache Bar this Thursday 27th July.
Ah Stokey. You chilled out little rebel of North London. The seemingly easy breezy, laissez-faire attitude that appears to exude from every award winning eatery and baby clothes shop of Church Street is all but an organic hessian veil over it’s anarchic and rebellious history. Nonconformists, anti fascists and dissenters built the area as we know it.
Trying our luck, we decided to ask the wonderful Raina and Saira of Joginder Supper Club to give us some unseen insight in to their centuries old Punjabi recipes. Amazingly they agreed to shed some light on one of their most tasty dishes: the Bhoolghobi Tamatar (cauliflower with tomato and potato). Over to the experts...
So this July 198 cyclists head over to Germany to start the Tour de France. If you think that is weird, wait till I tell you it started in Yorkshire a few years ago. Anyway after the three days of the Grand Depart the spectacle of the world's biggest sporting event heads back to France and the action really begins.
Did you take one look at the ticket prices for Glastonbury, vomit in your mouth and close your laptop slowly? Did you get a debilitating case of FOMO scrolling through your friends Glastonbury pics and “oops lost my phone at Radiohead” status updates? Or did you actually go to Glastonbury, witness Jon Snow drop the f bomb and now know that life will never get any better