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This was my Christmas night out with Big Matt, a trip to the Islington Academy to see the brilliant Wonderstuff play an acoustic set. Back in the day we might have hit the pubs and drank on through until showtime but nowadays we take it a bit easier and food has to feature. It's been a while since I've been out in Islington so I reached out to twitter and some good suggestions came back. I've always found the area a strange one, Angel has that odd mix of hipsterish joints surrounded by the usual chains. It almost feels it desperately wants to be trendier than it is but holds back from going full Camden. The Islington Academy (or whatever it is called nowadays) is a good illustration, a small cultish music venue surrounded by chain bars in a modern shopping centre. The shopping centre itself need not detain you long so armed with recommendations I headed over the road to Chapel Market where there was promise of drinks at the Craft Beer Co and a curry from Dehli Grill. The Craft Beer Co was full with a rather awkward work Christmas gathering, the older senior people seemed to be getting on it big style whilst the younger bespectacled attendees were standing aloof nursing solitary pints. All very Islington.
As nice as the beer is I didn't want to linger so I headed off early to the Delhi Grill. This is not your usual curry house, decor is aimed to mimic an indian street market. In fact the restaurant has a lunchtime stall selling their wares at the market outside. Obviously 'Grill' is a big clue to the menu but as well as the expected grilled offerings there was a wide selections of curries. Matt was running a bit late so with beer in hand I sat back to earwig the rather strained dinner conversation at the table next to me. It appeared to revolve around a youngish girl attempting to tap up her estranged father or grandfather for her inheritance. Negotiations were not going well but Big Matt turned up before the denouement so I'll never know the conclusion. Beers ordered we scoured the menu and with memories of the great Tayyabs lamb chops we had at Meatopia we decided to try the Dehli Grill version. They were good perhaps not as good as Tayyabs but spicy and succulent nevertheless, they didn't last long. We also had poppadums with a very good pickle tray. Service was efficient rather than friendly but we were well looked after.
To follow I went outside my comfort zone and ordered the lamb biryani, what a fortuitous decision! It was lovely, fragrant, tasty and the lamb cooked perfectly. I've seen how difficult Biryani is to cook on numerous cookery shows and this version was excellent. Easily my best rice dish of 2014. Matt enjoyed his chicken Makhani but admitted I had chosen very well indeed when he tried some of mine. We supplemented our mains with a very nice selection of breads. The bill was good value for money at about £30 each for very tasty food and cold beers. It wasn't the busiest on the Monday night we went but rows about wills aside there was a nice buzz in there. We set off into the night for a cracking acoustic set by the ever reliable Wonderstuff. The culmination of rather good Christmas night out.
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Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
Thursday, January 15, 2015