Food Lab has brought Essex Road to life in a way that has been hard to ignore over the past 7 years. It has more than doubled in size by taking over adjacent premises in the summer of 2012 and it’s still always buzzing filled with patrons. What is its secret?
From jams – to cakes – to pastas – to cured meats, the menu varies. So there is something on the menu for everyone. Even for the fussiest of eaters! It changes all the time too with “today’s specials” featuring on blackboards around the floor. There is never a dull day in this fine establishment and everyone in a mood for food.
The owner Liliana’s passion for food shows without fail. Even at the end of the day when she’s up at 5am at the break of dawn to locally source the best and freshest possible produce. Her raspberry jam tastes exactly like the one my grandma used to make. When I asked her where she found the raspberries like that she responded with “fruit finds me, I try it in the market and if it blows my mind, I bring it back”.
At The Islington Company we adore spending our lunch times at Food Lab. Today I had pumpkin ravioli with roast vegetables and freshly squeezed orange juice… should have had desert. Have to go back now!
Article by Vaida Filmanaviciute at The Islington Company
Images by photographer Aida Nedzelskyte
Colebrooke Row in Islington, home of London's prominent mayor and also the address of one of the best cocktail bars in London. This quiet leafy street, runs parallel to Upper Street and Essex Road.
It's lined with elegant terraced townhouses and leaning weeping willows. Duncan Terrace is a beautiful park with winding paths and huge old trees in the middle of Colebrooke Row, at this time of year the changing leaves make it a particularly stunning sight.
The central location and the beautiful architecture make it obvious as to why Boris Johnson has made this his home. With its proximity to the quirky cafes and stalls in Camden Passage make it desirable among many young professionals and prominent personalities. While bustling Upper Street is only seconds away Colebrooke Row seems like a serene quiet haven in the middle of the city.
As I was strolling around in the rain in Islington one afternoon, I looked up at the looming dark clouds responsible for my wet hair and noticed a huge block of birdhouses in a tree.
The extensive structure is both striking and strange, it's been described as a housing estate for birds and does indeed seem to have room for quite a few species. I then realised that these bird houses were fixed onto not one but onto several of trees. It was strange that I had never noticed them before, but they are just so high up you wouldn't see them unless you tilt your head right back.
A little further along almost in the middle, the canal springs up from depths of the Islington tunnel and provides a pretty pathway east for a nice afternoon stroll. If you reach the end of the street you're back in the midst of the busy traffic leading to Shoreditch and Clerkenwell, but while you're sitting in Duncan Terrace watching the wildlife it's like you're a world away from the hectic streets of London.
At the other end of Colebrooke Row there is another pleasant surprise waiting. While many people may not have told you that Islington is home to one of the best (if not the best) cocktail bars in London, this is because it is hard to talk to people about a bar that has no name. It is one of the area's best kept secrets, it's small and tucked away at the end of Colebrooke Row on a small inconspicuous corner.
Many refer to it by it's address - 69 Colebrooke Row. If you are lucky enough to get a seat, you can enjoy a night of brilliant live music and delicious cocktails. Due to it's tiny size, seating is often limited and while the staff will always try to accommodate you as much as they can it is often and easily at full capacity. However the cocktails are worth the wait, they are small but very strong and very tasty. Their bespoke seasonal cocktails are exquisite and the live piano music sets the perfect atmosphere.
Colebrooke Row may just be one street but it has become one of the most desirable locations in London, not only due to it's architecture and accesibility but also because of the hidden gems that lie amongst the period townhouses and tall ancient trees. It provides the perfect balance for urban living combining natural beauty and historical buildings with the great taste that evolves in modern city life.
What are your plans for Hallowe'en? Will you be trick or treating? Carving pumpkins or decorating your house with cotton cobwebs and spooky lights? Or will you be going to a Hallowe'en party dressed up as a scary beast?
At The Islington Company we have a few ideas on what to do on that frightful night. Whether you are looking to dance the night away in a crazy costume, watch a sinister play or go on a spooky walk.
You could be enticed by a petrifying play in the King's Head Theatre or the Almeida this weekend, for those with kids you can visit the Little Angel Theatre. Alternatively you could listen to horrific tales in the London Eye as you look over the city in the mist, where they are hosting story telling events.
If you prefer live music The magic at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington may be more your cup of tea, featuring electro and pop with a zombie 80s theme or the NME halloween Ball at KOKO's in Camden.
You can also wonder through the dark narrow streets of East London searching for supernatural beings or following the footsteps of nasty notorious historical figures on a night walk. While the Union Chapel in Islington is hosting 'Chills in the Chapel' which will feature a screenings of cult horror classics.
For something different why not sit in a big ring of warm water on a rooftop and watch a very silly movie dressed in only a bikini and terrifying makeup. If that appeals to you, why not go to the Hot Tub Cinema at Netil House in Hackney, they are hosting a number of Halloween themed nights...hopefully the hot tubs will ensure no one catches a chill..
Whether you want to spend the weekend carving pumpkins and sipping the inevitable resulting pumpkin soup or live it up on the dance floor in a wacky costume, we wish you all a haunting Hallowe'en!!!
The Islington Company staff recently had drinks in Lounge Lover in Shoreditch. After hearing people rave about it for several years I was surprised it was still so popular, as many bars have a relatively short life span.
Just a short walk from Brick Lane and Shoreditch High Street, it’s tucked away in an old brick warehouse building on Whitby Street next to the popular fine dining restaurant Les Trois Garcons.
Lounge Lover opened after the owners of Les Trois Garcons – Hassan, Michel and Stefan decided to convert a defunct meat packing factory into a stunning space in 2003. As soon as I walked in I realised why it’s charm and eccentric style was still attracting the fashion crowd after all these years. It’s almost like stepping into the world of Alice and Wonderland, away from the busy high street and cold East End streets.
When you step inside, a beautiful maze of hanging plants and draping materials welcomes you in, leading you to flamboyant sofas, red drapes and an abundance of surreal artwork. Antique street lamps line the bar and small wooden carousel horses hang from the ceiling looking over glass tables and plush chairs.
The vibrant and colourful decor creates a perfect atmosphere for a night out or a post dinner drink.
There are a huge range of exotic cocktails to choose from and if you’re feeling hungry, you can order tasty Japanese inspired tapas.
The long main room leads into a succession of themed areas such as the Cage featuring a large swan in its centre, the Dolls House which hosts a large stuffed hippo's head at its entrance, as well as the Baroque and the Gold Room allowing guests to experience a range of different interiors.
The large oriental vases, antique wall hangings and mismatched chandeliers almost give the impression you are in a cave of raided vintage treasures. However the decor works exceptionally well and the colourful lighting adds to the extraordinary feel along with the very fitting electro lounge music.
Lounge Lover brings a taste of decadence and lasting style to Shoreditch, with its eclectic decor and delicious cocktails continuing to attract the fashion and celebrity crowd even after all these years.
It’s one of those bars where the spirit tastes just right. We don’t just mean the cocktail ingredients – we mean the general Barrio North vibe. The music is authentic, the people are up for a party, the décor is funky , with a cut-out and customised caravan(!) to sit in. As far as properties in Islington go, the caravan/seating area is arguably the most unique.
Then there are the cocktails, split into different regions from around the world. Thanks to the menu, we’ve taken a tasting trip to South America, Central America, the Caribbean, North America, Europe and the East. Although not all in one night! It's enough to make you forget that you are in rainy North East London next door to The Islington Company offices.
Ingredients are fresh, there’s just the right amount of ice – and the staff serve quickly and with a smile, spinning around in a whirl of almost constant cocktail-making.
There are the £4 per cocktail Amigo Hour prices – available 5pm-8pm each day.
If you don’t like cocktails, you’ll find other options on the menu: house wine at £10, bottle of beer £2.50. If you’re one of those sensible people who choose some food to soak up the drink, there is a fusion menu of side dishes and platters to share. This variety of night life is also a great reason to rent a property in the North East london area. It not only provides a great hang out for young and fun letting agents in Islington but also allowing you to go home to your property on a beautiful residential street near by and get a good nights sleep.
Whenever we visit at the weekend, there is always a guest DJ or musician. Considering it’s free entry and open until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, we reckon this is one of the best value, best tasting nights out in Islington!