Classy and a steal: What’s not to like?
17 November, 2016 — By Tom Moggach
The pork belly is served with creamy mash and a shard of crackling
THE wildlife of the Galápagos inspired the name of Alcedo, this week’s restaurant.
You might assume it was the giant tortoise, but the word is Spanish for the kingfisher, a graceful bird that migrates to the islands every winter.
Angel, the restaurant owner, is Ecuadorian by birth and charm personified. He’s spent decades in the UK, ever since meeting his Welsh wife. Alcedo is a bold move – his first solo restaurant after long years at Le Caprice, a swanky restaurant in Mayfair.
Angel aims to bring a touch of West End sparkle to the fast-changing Holloway Road.
“This is a dream I’ve had for quite a long time,” he says.
At Le Caprice, he served royalty and Bill Clinton. At Alcedo, big names so far include some of the Arsenal team, including goalkeeper Peter Čech. Alcedo is by no means stiff, flash or pricey. Quite the opposite, in fact. Prices are a bargain. It’s the classy service and cooking that are a cut above. The restaurant opened a few months ago. A local soon tipped me off by email: “Around half a dozen starters and mains, nothing exotic, but nicely done and well presented.”
He was spot on – but my first impressions were mixed. Alcedo is still relatively unknown, so the place was far from bustling. Décor and menu are simple and unpretentious. The front room – off-white walls, exposed brick – seats around 20. Tables are set with freshly cut flowers and a flickering nightlight. They shake classic cocktails at the back bar.
The short menu stars French and Mediterranean classics, with the occasional Asian twist to keep you on your toes. Specials included a starter of crispy duck (£7.50) and a yellow fin tuna steak with chick peas, tomato and aubergine (£14.95). Our starters arrived fast – vast plates of excellent, honest food. Six enormous tiger prawns for £8 is a steal, served here with chilli and garlic butter. (You’d get a measly portion half the size in some Upper Street venues I could mention).
Crisp fried calamari was just as generous, which we dipped in a feisty harissa and garlic mayonnaise. I loved the presentation of the pork belly (£11.50) main course: one neatly carved slab of unctuous, soft meat, a dollop of creamy mash and an arrow-like shard of top-notch crackling balanced on top.
My pal’s salmon fillet (£13), glazed with soy and sesame, was just as hearty – although she wasn’t crazy about the grilled daikon radish. The wine list is high quality and well-priced. The house red from Berry Brothers, a tempranillo and syrah blend, is £4.50 a glass.
We left happy, craving only better bread and perhaps butter served in dishes, not those fiddly foil packets. Alcedo serves a full English breakfast, Eggs Benedict and more on weekdays from 8am, 10am at weekends. Lunches include pastas and risottos. This is a cracking local restaurant. It needs – and richly deserves – a surge of new customers.
237 Holloway Road, N7
020 7998 7672