Teaming with brunch spots, hidden rooftops and award-winning restaurants, it’s not difficult to see why Upper Street has become the foodie favourite in Islington. But if you veer right towards Hackney, you’ll find that Essex Road is also worth a visit. Straddling Angel and Dalston, Trade is the coffee shop and restaurant that’s vying for N1's attention. When I heard that there were truffle cheese puffs and short rib burgers on the menu? I had to see for myself.
Looking like a casual café from outside, it’s laidback and chilled out. Once you’re in, the industrial style features touches of wood offset by open bulbs and leafy décor. Arriving on a Saturday night just after opening, we were the first people in; grabbing a corner by the window and eying up the menu. Before we’d decided on what to order, our charming waiter had suggested the truffle cheese puffs (£5) – moreish balls of light choux pastry, oozing with three different cheeses and topped with shaved. Not a bad start.
Sticking to shrooms, my dinner date opted for the truffle martini (£8). The kind of drink that smells so sensational, you know it’s going to be a winner, it was a divine mix of truffle-washed gin and vermouth; herbaceous with a touch of sweetness. Another twist on a classic, my cacao negroni (£8) stirred gin and cacao-infused Campari with red vermouth and an absinthe kick.
Like most restaurants in London, Trade delivers dishes to your table as they’re ready. Salmon tartare (£7) arrived encased in baby gem lettuce and topped with a dollop of wasabi mayo, while zesty chicken wings (£7) were slathered in green chilli zhoug. Crispy, fried and layered in garlicky yoghurt with parmesan and za’atar, langosh bread (£5) was another side that stole the show. As for the main event, we saved the best for last, with the short rib cheeseburger (£11) was grilled to a beautiful medium rare and accompanied by a side of pickles… how did they know? With thick chocolate creme with miso caramel (£6) alongside the cutest flat white tiramisu (£5) for dessert (it was served in a coffee cup and decorated with a faux latte art), afters really were the cherry on top of a tasty night.
The DesignMyNight Digest
If you're looking for a fuss-free meal, Trade has you sorted. It's got proper neighbourhood vibes, friendly staff and a kitchen that cooks up starters sides that are just as strong as the mains, and - the best part - offers great value for money.
💰 The damage: around £60 between two, plus service charge.
📍 The location: 330 Essex Rd, London N1 3PB
👌 Perfect for: locals after affordable eats.
⭐ Need to know: they also do brunch and have a site in Shoreditch.
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