Joeblade

Breakfast at Assiette Anglaise

Update: Assiette Anglaise has since closed. Assiette Anglaise is a vaguely swanky French restaurant that seems to be in the wrong place, just spitting distance from Holloway Road Station. I say ‘spitting distance’, because this is Holloway; in this case it probably isn’t an idiom.

The restaurant has the feel of a place that was aiming for Hampstead but took a few wrong turns and has ended up somewhere terrible instead. It’s a few steps back from the actual Holloway Road, so rather than sitting between a greasy spoon and a stabbing it’s instead quietly nestled amidst the housing estates of Liverpool Road. I stumbled upon it by accident during a brisk walk home as a branch of Chicken Cottage was holding it up against a wall, demanding its wallet.

Inside it’s cool and bright, cool mostly because most humans have yet to evolve the gene that lets them know that standing in an open door is LETTING THE COLD IN MOTHER FUCKERS. Assiette could do with a vestibule attached outside to acclimatise these cretins. Make a cloakroom of it or something. Put a lady in there to say HELLO DID YOU BOOK? Basic stuff.

Also, the entire place could do with carpeting or something, even on the walls. When there aren’t many people there you get the booming clumps of footsteps going up and down the wooden stairs and occasionally I’m left hyperventilating thanks to some dick of a toddler who lets out a shriek at random. When Assiette is full, it’s even worse. I can’t top this description from The Metro: “the sort of diabolical acoustics previously only found in public swimming baths”

Also, fucking hell, I’ve been there three times and every time the place has had at least two children stamping around the bar while their parents ignore them for fear of accidentally raising a child. I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t me that’s causing inconsiderate parenting because wherever I go, there they are.

I’m probably not painting a compelling picture, and the place can be a tough sell with the breeze, noise, plain decor and little Jemima and Merlin running amok, but I did go back three times and will go back again. And this all involves travelling along Holloway Road! Where people actually die from poverty and knives! That I’m willing to put my life on the line for the food here should tell you something.

The menu is ‘brunch’ rather than ‘breakfast’, served between 9am and 4pm, so alongside some obvious breakfast options there’s squash and blue cheese risotto, and steak tartare and chips. The breakfast options are limited but fortunately they’re all superb. Oh, and there’s granola. Always, there is granola.

Brioche French toast is served with either baked fruit and crème fraîche or bacon so naturally I had it with the baked fruit and crème fraîche then ordered a side of bacon because bacon. It was all good; the French toast on the crisper end of the French toast spectrum and the baked fruit a nice complement.

Scrambled eggs on toast with truffle oil came with what seemed to be tiny sautéed mushrooms and a dollop of mushroom puree. I have never had a more satisfying and filling scrambled eggs on toast.

Mushroom fricassee & poached egg on brioche toast was good, but needed a sturdier base as the fricassee soaked into the brioche making it a bit of a wet meal. A thick slice of sourdough would have been fine. The fricassee would have been all HEY HERE I AM ALL DRIPPING ON YOU and the sourdough would have been all WHATEVER MAN I’M SOURDOUGH BRING IT ON.

Assiette Anglaise
489 Liverpool Road
Islington
London N7 8NS
www.assietteanglaise.co.uk

By Paul Haine, in