Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner | Le Coq, 292-294 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2LH
Saff and I are fairly uncomplicated creatures. All we really ask for is great food (hence this blog), occasional foreign sun on our faces and to have as much fun as humanly possible. Yes my sense of humour is somewhat childish so please ignore any ‘coq’ jokes and sorry in advance for any bad puns/similes that WILL be scattered throughout this Le Coq post like chicken feed in a farmyard (see I’ve started already).
Our weekends are split between spending time with my children or the relentless maintenance and improvements to our little cottage in Kent. But this weekend was different and boy, we were going to make the most of it! We already had plans to visit The Canonbury pub to celebrate our friend’s wedding/birthday so as we were Islington bound, we thought it’d be a good time to finally try Le Coq.
We’re not quite sure about the term neighbourhood restaurant (even Google couldn’t get to the bottom of it), I’m sure there are residents near all restaurants. But there’s a real welcoming warmth as you walk in and that’s not from the rotisserie. Everything about Le Coq screams ‘come in, relax and have fun!’ Even the menu is simple, I think even Saff’s dad would be able to take it all in and he never reads menus (sorry for going on about that, John).
Decor is bright yet surprisingly cozy, ceiling to floor windows lets the late summer sun flood in. Yes they have exposed brickwork AND copper piping AND reclaimed scaffolding boards as benches – but who doesn’t? Loved the little metal gauze lights especially as they didn’t (shock horror!) contain filament bulbs.
We walked past again just as it was getting dark that evening and from across the street in the dusk Le Coq gave out a beautiful warm glow. It looked like one of those beautiful French bistros that you find tucked away in a little side street. Ignore the big red London busses and you could easily feel that you’re on the continent, especially with the wonderful Trullo just a couple of doors down.
And it was in France, the French street markets to be precise, that gave sisters Ana and Sanja the inspiration for Le Coq. Between them these siblings have a couple of decades of restaurant experience, Sanja co-founded Salt Yard Group and Ana’s a Leith’s trained chef – pedigree indeed.
We started our meal, as always, with a cocktail. The list here is short but there’s always a couple of exciting specials available. That’s exactly what Saff ordered – a Blueberry G&T (£6), a nice variation on a theme. I was in a Negroni kinda mood and when I spied a Saffron Negroni (£6), what else could I have possibly done? Their wine list is very simple too, comprising of fourteen or so carefully old world wines so you never mess-up when trying to impress your dinner date…
As mentioned before the menu is an ‘unfussy yet bold’ choice of three starters, followed by rotisserie free-range chicken with a side dish(es). Then for desert a slice of homemade tart, Gelupo ice cream or a cheese (with crackers and chutney) from La Fromagerie. Priced at £17 for two courses or £22 for three – so reasonable that you won’t fall fowl of your bank manager (sorry, that was inexcusable).
The good (and bad) thing about Le Coq is that the menu changes weekly and is based of what seasonal goodies they can get their hands on. Good because the menu is kept fresh and inventive, bad because if you like something, you may have to wait a very long time before it’s back on the menu (if at all).
This is what happened to me. My trio of braised lamb meatballs with marinated yogurt, chickpea and fresh dill was literally tongue tinglingly delicious. Oh well, I’ll just have to ask them to Deliveroo it over to me when it’s back on.
Saff had the unusual yet simple combo of crab with mango salsa and crostini. The flaked crab meat with fresh cubed mango was a light and delicate option compared to the bold flavours of my meatballs – the saint to my sinner!
Sutton Hoo in Suffolk supply their free range chickens. ‘The dedicated poultry farm breeds slow-growing traditional chickens, fed a completely drug and additive free diet in a free range environment. The result is meat with a texture and depth of flavour impossible to find in commercially available chicken.’ That was shamelessly lifted from Le Coq’s website but it’s true – the rotisserie cooked chicken’s moist, tender meat and perfectly crisp skin was right up there with the best!
I’m not a big fan of squash (Delica or otherwise) and kale normally gets shoved over to the ‘I’ll eat that never’ section of the plate. But somehow the seasoning and the spiced sage crunch really lifted these usually bland vegetables. Their famed rotisserie potatoes (potatoes cooked in the dripping juices and fat of the chickens) are definitely worth buying, if only all roasties tasted this good.
We went the whole hog (or should that be the whole bird) and had dessert too. The apple crumble tart with its cute little pouring jug of custard was my obvious choice. The actual crumble wasn’t too sweet, in fact the skin-on barely stewed apples made it seem almost a healthy option. But the sweet vanilla custard soon put an end to that notion.
Saff went for the lighter option of green tea sorbet – the texture turned out to be that of ice cream. But lovely nevertheless.
That’s not all, this sister act have thought of everything, on Sunday the spits are fired up for various other roasts – the crispy pork belly or melting shoulder of lamb sound well worth another weekend trip up Islington. Kids are adequately catered for with a menu of simple chicken and THOSE roast potatoes.
Plus downstairs there’s a stunning private dining room for up to fourteen people, oh how I’d love to fall into a chicken and Negroni induced coma in that little beanbagged, mirrored alcove. And I nearly forgot to mention the takeaway and delivery service – that would have been a major cock-up! (Going out with a bang…)
You can’t beat a roast dinner especially when it’s cooked as well as this. A little bird told us (well Ana) that they are on the lookout for another site. Or as she put it that ‘plans are now afoot for more restaurant adventures’ and we can’t wait for the next chapter. This really is chicken cooked how it should be – it’s a ‘winner, winner! chicken dinner’ as they say in Las Vegas.
Opening hours: Monday–Wednesday: 5–10:30pm
Thursday–Saturday: 12–3pm & 5–10:30pm
Book a table online
Nearest station: Highbury & Islington (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Le Coq, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.