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© 2009-2011 Quality Eating and Drinking London Ltd

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Frederick's the Great

Camden Passage, Islington, on a busy Saturday. It's noisy, it's crowded, it's smelly (from people colonising the street outside the eating-houses to poison the atmosphere with tobacco: why can't every other food-or-drink establishment follow the good example of the Elk in the Woods, and ban smoking anywhere on their premises, including exterior tables?), and there are far too many ill-managed wheeled vehicles too large for the environment. Of course it all makes you grumpy, and the only reason we were not on top-notch grumpiness was that less than two hours previously, we had experienced the sensory nadir that is Birmingham New Street, so even N1 has its compensations.

It turns out that there are no tables for five, so we set off in the general direction of Angel. And to cap it all, it begins to rain. Operatic stair-rods. Thank you, Jupiter!

But then, just after Camden passage had mutated into Islington High Street, we found Frederick's, and stepped across the threshold. Calm and bliss descended in an instant: the mind-grit of the above paragraphs simply evaporated. We felt very fortunate to be out of the storm: the Jeevesian welcome alone had changed our day for the better. But in case you might think that, as Bertram might say, "this was the point where Fate slipped the iron horseshoe into the velvet glove", just let that thought wither and perish right there. First, the comfortable bar area (we weren't up for full meals this time). Then a good range of excellent wines by the glass — a gewürztraminer from Washington State was only one of the glories that caught our eye — followed by exquisite bar snacks (not the run-of-the-mill, but squid, chicken-liver and foie gras parfait, asparagus with duck egg, and so on), each one more delicious than the last. A roomier sofa area had now become available: how many other establishments would have invited us to move and spread out? Desserts (and dessert wines) kept the quality going, and kept us going till conditions outside were once more conducive to Noah's letting down the gangplank.

Proof indeed that civilisation is not yet dead.

Comments

It was indeed an oasis in the rain -- if that isn't a contradiction in terms. The food was exceptional, I thought, wittily presented and brilliantly judged in the cooking. The Parfait came in its own not so little kilner jar; deep-fried squid rings appeared in a miniature deep fryer basket with an artful bit of newspaper crossword in case there was a drop of oil. Asparagus was crunchy, and the poached duck egg was lightly set outside and perfectly runny within. It all spoke of care and skill. There were a good number of wines to be had by the glass at quarter bottle prices for 175cl servings, making the eating experience so much more interesting: no need here for uncomfortable wine and food compromise.

Quarter-bottle prices for 175cl? Yes please! 175ml, I think.

Ah yes: mls. But the wines were anything but run of the ml.:-)

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