The Seagrass at Manzes
Hidden in the depths of Chapel Market, Manze’s 19th century Eel and Pie House is now home to restaurant The Seagrass, specialising in fresh seafood sourced from the surrounding suppliers in Chapel Market and game from The Wild Game Company.
The Seagrass is the brainchild of Ruaridh Emslie, also of the Wild Game Company, plus Dan Boxall, Isabel Widowson and head chef Ian Sims, who formerly worked at the Mussel Inn in Edinburgh. Working on establishing an indefinite place in the London restaurant scene, it does take a few tricks from supper club’s and pop up’s by opening only three nights a week, paying fixed prices and BYOB.
The restaurant offers a relaxed setting where customers sit on dark wooden benches (not the most comfortable) with candlelit marble tables in booths, surrounded by original decorative tiled walls and mirrors. Setting a nostalgic feel, throngs of classic popular music play in the background. It’s far from what you would expect!
A set three-course menu that changes weekly is priced at £30, with three choices for starter, main and a choice between dessert or cheeseboard. Even with there being a small number of choices, it is still difficult to decide. During this time an amuse-bouche of smoked mackerel on mini toast with a squeeze of lemon prompts the meal.
We chose to start with the cold smoked Scottish salmon, new potato and beetroot salad, with a fresh dill oil to temper the taste buds. The salmon was undeniably fresh and silky, with other options of pan-fried pigeon accompanied with ratatouille or a smoked haddock risotto with parmesan.
For the main, by recommendation, was pinkish, tender pan-fried Highland venison on spinach and crispy triple cooked chips with a sweet redcurrant jus, which sent me to heaven and back. It will leave you mopping up the jus on the plate with those chips and forgetting all tableside manners, if only the wilted spinach was something with a bit more affirmation. Other options were a whole Cornish crab, garlic butter with slaw or a goat’s cheese bread pudding with basil pesto. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a choice of side dishes including grilled asparagus, enveloped in citrus oil.
The warm, rich chocolate brownie with salted caramel sauce trickling over it was a welcome end to the meal, which disappeared in seconds; maybe a serving of ice cream or cream would be a perfect addition.
Overall, it was a simple yet satisfying meal with attentive service and something deliciously special in Islington, where you don’t come away with a dent in the wallet.
Tip: Don’t forget to bring a cushion!
The Seagrass is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7pm – 11.30pm
To book a table at The Seagrass, visit Manzes, 74 Chapel Market, Islington, London N1 9ER or enquire here.