For the first time, Angelina Dalston is offering its 4 and 10-course omakase and kaiseki menus on Saturday lunchtimes. Priced at £29 and £49 respectively, the monthly-changing tasting menus combine the techniques and flavours of Italian and Japanese cuisines to create a Saturday lunch worth celebrating.
Fortieth birthdays are special ones, you’ve reached the age where you can appreciate better food and finer wine, but you don’t want to be sat in a restaurant where the waiter squeaks with the trolley as they come to show you the desserts which are even older than they are. Today being forty is to be young, vibrant, sophisticated, full of life and dare I say flavour – precisely how our lunch was at Angelina which was an excellent choice to celebrate my dear friend’s birthday in relaxed style.
Handsome couples were perched at the bar, effortlessly chatting in a way only possible in East London, a larger group of friends sat around a table in merriment next to a tree – there was already a welcoming ease in the atmosphere. Light, airy, and relaxed is the décor, we were sat next to the enormous window watching Dalston go by.
Our culinary journey began as we perused the menu and sipped on a beautiful coloured and balanced gin and beetroot cocktail, where the hint of chilli lingered at the end and prepared our palates to dine. At Angelina they do something unique – they combine the flavours and techniques of both Japanese and Italian cuisines – don’t be alarmed, you’re going to adore it!
The joy of a kaiseki tasting menu is to treat your taste buds to an array of delights and here at Angelina the small plates are so artistically presented that visually you are just as stimulated. The soft shell crab with yuzu we had first might also have been my favourite – the sheer depth of flavour coming out of this small crustacean was simply magnificent – I immediately wanted several more, thank goodness my gluttony didn’t win as I needed all the space to then enjoy Gnocco Fritto and Chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke chawanmushi.
Brilliant restaurants have brilliant staff – here at Angelina they are charming – an exquisite mix of knowledge, attentive, (but not obtrusive) and relaxed so that you feel the same and intuitive enough to know if their guests are feeling coquettish to share a joke with them, well done! Our waiter was also our sommelier who explained our wines with a real sincerity and passion telling us that Angelina only served unusual Italian wines – we sipped on Amperg Weissburgunder (yes, still Italian) whilst we ate delicate and melt in the mouth tuna, Hamachi and halibut – each fish expertly carved and honouring such special of ingredients. Here the real fusion came to life as the halibut was laced with truffle and yet keeping its delicate and simple Japanese identity.
A glass of Frappato cleverly cut through our fritti course of Wasabina and Bottarga and the Sweetcorn Kakiagae and Shichmi Mayo which we had with the choice of added Tonkatsu, why wouldn’t you? At this point our belts were becoming a little tight but the feast continued with an unctuous dish of Raviolo with mushrooms, hazelnut and Wakame – the Anterprima Tonda cut expertly through the richness of the velvety egg yolk.
We popped the lollipops of venison into our mouths and nibbled the tiny quails legs, sipped our wine and enjoyed the soft glow of the warm afternoon sun that was cascading upon us – we easily could have sat there all day and started again with dinner – that’s the welcoming feeling Angelina gives you. Dessert of panna cotta, finger lime, kinako and mango was a triumph of textures and flavour – the sorbet slicing through the creamy panna cotta and brought together by a sip of the Kabir, a Moscato from Sicily.
It was only at the end that I wondered, who is Angelina? Was she in the kitchen, was she one of the chefs I could see busying away out front, seemed unlikely? Owner Josh Owens-Baigler explained that Angelina is a family-owned restaurant where summers were spent as children in the back of the car listening to Italian jazz and roaming the Italian landscape, the name Angelina coming from one of his father’s favourite songs.
With this, this exceptional restaurant’s identity is perfected and we look forward to visiting their new Soho creation Dai Chi which will focus Osaka’s best skewers as well as a vast sake and wine selection. At Angelina Dalston meanwhile, the attention to detail, the meticulous choice of Italian wines, the warm and relaxed atmosphere resulted in the best meal I’ve had so far in 2021 – a big accolade but accurate. Come here and spoil your senses and not your wallet – I cannot wait to come back.
To discover more, visit: angelina.london
All imagery courtesy of Angelina Dalston / Anton Rodriguez.
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