Flavour of the Week: Sardine
Gallery restaurants, southern French bistros – both can be overpriced and a bore. Not so at Alex Jackson's new joint near Old Street, where he breathes new life into both categories
What's the draw
Mr Jackson has upped sticks from Rotorino on Kingsland Road, where he worked as Stevie Parle's head chef. He now channels the mistral breeze of the Med from Provence, the Languedoc and Liguria to a buzzy ground floor dining room annexe in the Parasol Unit Gallery, nestled between City Road and Regent's Canal.
What to drink
The Aix Dirty Martini is a must-have. Pre-batched and served in a demi coupe, the olive-oil washed gin and vermouth provides the perfect foil to the snacking menu. Elsewhere, restraint has been exercised in the wine list, with reasonable mark-ups and strong selections. We give the Michelle Alois Caulino Falanghina from just outside of Rome and the Domaine de L'Ocre Rouge Pinot Noir from the Rhône Valley top marks.
What to eat
As much as you can. We were especially smitten by the ratatouille: earthy on the plate, divine on the fork. The anchovy and onion tart was artfully done, while the rustic pissaladière (a Nicçoise pastry pizza) topped helium-light shortbread with caramelised onions, cut through with the natural salt of anchovy. Both of these dishes were better than what you'd get in a good bistro in Nice. Leg of lamb à la ficelle with white beans and anchovy made a definite stir – during cooking, the entire joint is dangled over wood fire and cooked with hawkish attention. Trust us, your salivary glands will be working overtime.
Sharing plates from £2.50-£19; wine from £4 by the glass and £22 by the bottle. 15 Micawber Street, N1 7TB; sardine.london