“A Little of What You Fancy” is emblematic of the new wave of businesses sprouting up around Dalston: Beautifully designed, impeccable service and, most importantly, its locally sourced food is delicious.
The trickle of young professionals and creative types moving to Dalston transformed into a fully fledged stream after the opening of the East London Line in April 2010. Independent cafés like Mouse and De Lotz and slick fashion boutiques such as LN-CC are stepping up to cater for Dalstonites’ increasing appetite for Square Mile coffee and designer clothes. Last year, a group of female Dalstonites even launched their own Women’s Institute branch called the Dalston Darlings. Don’t get me wrong, Dalston is far from gentrified but nestled between the drab nail salons, betting shops and fried chicken outlets are an increasing number of sophisticated gems including “A Little of What You Fancy”, a new British restaurant which opened on the Dalston end of Kingsland Road last Autumn.
ALOWYF had no sign on the outside, just a chalk board on the pavement welcoming you in and a Time Out review mounted in the window. The interior was equally as understated and the shiny white tiled service counter and stacked boxes of colourful root vegetables made it feel quite homely. There were piles of ciabatta and spelted seed loaves on the kitchen counter, and a few shelves stocked with products for sale including some attractive looking preservatives and a rather hilarious postcard with the message It’s Never Dull in Dalston, mockingly complete with images of some of the area’s “must-see” sights including Tescos. I was tempted to send one to a die-hard Notting Hill friend.
We were all starving so we decided to go for three courses. To start I ordered the red chicory, goat’s cheese and blood orange salad with hazelnut dressing. The salad leaves were incredibly delicate and crisp and the distinctive mixture of unusual leaves tasted quite exotic. The hazelnut dressing was also divine and the toasted hazelnuts gave it some extra oomph. I also tried the white root vegetable soup with truffle oil that my friend ordered, and thought it too was excellent. It was light and subtle, but you could still register a hint of turnips and some earthy truffle oil.
For my main I ordered the slow roast pork belly pork with roast potatoes and kumquat relish. The pork and potatoes were beautifully cooked and well seasoned however the kumquat relish was a bit of a spoiler. It was too sweet and bitter like a marmalade filled with big bits of chewy rind, and it overpowered the succulent pork. The duck confit on the other hand was flawless. The duck was incredibly tender and flavoursome and its accompanying red slaw, which has been dressed in some kind of nutty oil, was a killer side-kick.
To finish I ordered the lemon posset with sea salt shortbread, and I was not let down. The dense and creamy posset had a good dose of tangy lemon and the sea salt shortbread was a salty sweet revelation. I also tried some of my friend’s huge meringue with rhubarb compote and double cream. This dessert, which was basically like a Rhuburb eton mess, had a deliciously tart yet sufficiently sweet rhubarb compote, and it tasted exquisite mashed up with the crunchy meringue and the thick double cream.
In total we spent £42 per person, including an amazing Pinor Noir (Domaine Grézan) and tip. Overall, the food and the service was impeccable and I’d recommend this place to anyone who feels like they need a break from eating out in Clerkenwell and Shoreditch. The tube or bus ride to Dalston Junction is much quicker than you imagine and even if it isn’t, ALBOWYF is still worth the trek.
A Little of What You Fancy, 464 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AE. Tel: 0207 275 0060