If you’re after some fine dining with a few surprises, you can’t go wrong with this hidden gem. In the mood for some balsamic vinegar ice cream? Or maybe some white chocolate and chilli bread? If the idea of a menu that’s all freaky and no belly food doesn’t tempt you, don’t worry, Cruse9 caters for all tastes. The Middle Eastern twists on dishes will please the fussiest and even more exploratory eaters.
After you’ve picked something from the vast wine list you’re greeted with the aforementioned warm chocolate and chilli bread. OK, it may sound like something cooked up in the head of Heston Blumenthal, but it works – fluffy sweet tasting bread with the fire of the chilli to finish off.
Now for the starters. We chose the baby veggies in tempura batter, and fishcakes. The deep fried veg in the elegant batter was a joy to polish off, but the fishcakes were a bit too potato heavy for my liking. Where’s the fish? Don’t fret, the grumbles end there. The rack of lamb with Lebanese kofta and aubergine puree was prepared with care and affection. My fellow dinner insisted that the sea bass, sourced from much respected Islington fishmonger, Steve Hatt, was the best she’s ever had. I’m inclined to agree.
Dessert time, and if you’ve got confidence in your palate, then you’ll have to try the assiette of six ice creams. If you figure out all the flavours, you get it for free. Some are an acquired taste, but still, it’s good fun choosing and trying – and a great way to cap off the meal (especially if your date is a bore). For something a bit safer, you can’t go wrong with the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream.
But Cruse9 isn’t all about the food. It’s a relaxing place to munch and the staff are helpful and friendly. It may be slightly off the beaten track. But it’s a great venue, with fine food, and by Highbury/ Islington standards, not too pricey either. And another thing, if you do go to Cruse9 ask for one of their beers from Lapland, (aka Santa’s home) it’s well worth a visit alone.
Cuisine type – Mediterranean with an Middle-Eastern twist
Dinner for 2 (ex. drinks) – £58
Wine – £4
Cocktails – £7.50
62-63 Halliford Street
Tel: 0207 354 8099