"There’s nothing about St. Paul we didn’t like."Review Rating: Reviewed by Laurel
There’s something to be said for stripping back on the fanciful foodstuffs and going back to ba-sics sometimes, serving up a handful of simples dishes, made with heart and soul using trusted, local ingredients. That’s exactly the premise of Islington’s St. Paul, a café come coffee shop slash evening wine and nibble bar, one of a crop of new establishments that have taken up residence since I last frequented the area a few years ago and one that is undoubtedly already becoming a firm favourite in the local community.
On the site of an old butcher’s shop, it still boasts the original tiles and with its stripped wooden floor and huge windows it’s cosy, welcoming and perfectly informal. During the day you’ll find it packed with the local buggy brigade, the counters dripping in pastries and Highbury’s yummy mummies making the most of the top notch coffee machine. With a particularly impressive day-time menu of sandwiches and toasties it’s worth a pitstop if you’re in the area, but for those with a penchant for an evening tipple and some light bites to accompany, it [i]really[/i] comes into its own.
A Tuesday evening visit started quietly but as the minutes ticked by the door was barely closed and the buzzy chatter accelerated. A chinwag with the owner Mark divulged the story of where St. Paul came from; the homepage quite simply states ‘proper food and drink’ and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Provenance and simplicity are key with St. Paul’s using a wealth of local suppliers.
Do yourself a favour and order a selection of charcuterie and cheeses. We chose the flavourful Tuscan fennel salami, the San Daniele D.o.p prosciutto and the Ventracina spiced salumi from Calabria, all accompanied by warm sourdough with plenty of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. With cheese coming from Highbury’s La Fromagerie it’s probable they would all be delicious. We only tried three but suffice to say I’ll be back for moree. We went for the Tor Ash rolled goats cheese from Devon, a La Mancha manchego and completely divine chaource from Champagne.
There are other small plates to accompany the wine and cheese, should that tickle your fancy. With a baked camembert, burrata, beetroot salad, meatballs and tartiflette also on the menu you’d be forgiven for ordering one of everything.
On to the vino and there is a fantastic list from which to choose. With reds and whites from all over the old and new world and almost all available by the glass (plus a couple of special ones by bottle only), it’s easy to chop and change throughout the evening and sample several, though having said that we did actually just stick with the same New Zealand Yealands sauvignon blanc because it was so darn tasty, Yet another reason to head back another time…
There’s nothing about St. Paul we didn’t like. The location, the vibe, the authenticity, the food, the wine, the provenance - it all makes for a perfect local hangout and I’m only annoyed that I don’t live closer.
Laurel reviewed St. Paul on Mon 30 Apr 2018