5. Top Cuv¨¦e
Best for: natural wines and small plates
Before lockdown, this was a lively small-plates spot on Blackstock Road with a focus on ¡®natty¡¯ natural wine. But beginning in March 2020, Top Cuv¨¦e transformed itself into a household name among young Londoners, couriering bottles of pet-nat and orange wine all over the city on graffiti-logoed cargo bikes. Since then co-founders Brodie Meah and Max Venning have opened their own off licence ¨C Shop Cuv¨¦e ¨C just around the corner, as well as a Bethnal Green outpost, but the original north London restaurant is still where the main action is. It¡¯s a lovely spot for impromptu solo diners: turn up early or late, take a seat at the bar and put yourself in the team¡¯s hands for superlative sourdough, smoked duck rillettes with cornichons and cheese a-plenty.
Address: Top Cuve¨¦, 177B Blackstock Rd, London N5 2LL
6. FKA BAM
Best for: offal that you¡¯ll definitely want to eat
To the delight of its many admirers, Highbury Corner¡¯s iconic heavy metal grill Black Axe Mangal has finally awoken from its lockdown-long slumber. And like Prince, it¡¯s reinvented itself while it¡¯s been away ¨C the ¡®FKA¡¯ in its new name stands for ¡®Formerly Known As¡¯. So what¡¯s changed? For the moment it¡¯s serving a fixed-price set menu at ¡ê45 designed for sharing, which head chef Lee Tiernan switches up weekly (there¡¯s also an excellent vegetarian/vegan one). But the BAM greatest hits are all present and correct, from roasted bone marrow and oxtail gratin to a lamb offal flatbread and crispy rabbit, all paired with low-intervention wines and loud, loud music.
Address: FKA BAM, 156 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2UP