Review: Shoe Shop, Tufnell Park

A casual wander up Fortess road in Tufnell Park on a lazy Sunday, it was quite striking how many food and drinks place were opening up. Our intended destination was Bear + Wolf for a coffee, but we saw more delights such as the butcher Meat NW5, the new wet fishmongers (and not neglecting a cheeky stop at ice cream shop Ruby Violet). In amongst them all was Shoe Shop, not the odd one out of the list, this former shop has a casual cafe look and “aims to serve food and drink appropriate to the time of day”. All very good, and even better it is headed by Paul Merrony, formerly of my TCR favourite Giaconda Dining Room. I was sold, so we headed there for a late lunch.

A simple inviting decor, specials on the wall

The big front windows let plenty of light into the simple, elegant dining room. A short menu and specials board had a nice array of interesting sounding dishes, belying the slightly cafe feel. The service was also noticeably excellent. It struck similarities with Giaconda straight away in the food and decor department, no bad thing.

Soft tongue and parsley salad

Smothered steakCrisp chips

My dish of tongue, lentil and parsley salad may not immediately sound appetising to all, but I’m always interested to see what a kitchen can do with the trickier cuts of meat. I was not disappointed. The tongue was beautifully soft, flavoursome and tender. A sharp dressing cut through this fatty cut, with earthiness and body from the lentils. The copious parsley added freshness and some crisp croutons were there for crunch. Everything I could want from the dish. Although it looked slightly small there was a generous amount of meat and plenty for lunch. The wife opted for her guilty pleasure staple, steak and chips. Classically French in style, a thin seared rib-eye steak came literally smothered in a tangy onion and peppercorn sauce. Simple, tasty and every morsel finished. Chips were glassy crunchy, fluffy and salty. Perfect.

I drank two glasses of (125ml) rose, obscenely good value at £3.50. This was explained by the generously tiny £8 mark-up on bottles between drink-in and take-out prices, an inviting prospect for evening meals. The total bill was about £40, great value for the high level of cooking. Simple dishes maybe, but nothing wrong with that for a satisfying meal.

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