Trawler Trash in Highbury & Islington
Opened just a couple of weeks ago on the grounds of a historic fish and chip shop, Trawler Trash is one of the smartest restaurants in town. The concept is both current and very British: turning fishermen’s “trash” (bycatch, which accounts for 15-20% of the takings) into “treasure” whilst honouring the UK’s seasonal produce. Utilising lesser known fish to create contemporary, creative dishes is clearly a winning idea.
The site has been redeveloped brilliantly: an open kitchen welcomes each customer, then a series of intimate booth-style tables appear to the left and more classic ones to the right. Surprsingly, the further you walk down the dining room, the brighter it gets. The best tables are those at the back, close to the bar, and that’s where we choose to sit. Blue colours and industrial-looking details characterise the design of the space.
Although there isn’t a high-profile chef in the kitchen, the menu and every description show awareness of trends. That’s where Trawler Trash proves its smartness. We have a portion of six oysters, coming with “trash” dressing. From the actual plate to the seaweed, the attention to detail is noteworthy. Considering the affordable price tag (£12), these Jersey delicacies are brilliant – just don’t kill their taste with the lemon, please.
There are so many options out of the Something Small section you’ll want to come back and try more. We pick the Smoked Eel and the Air-Dried Charred Octopus. Covered by herbs and leaves, the eel ticks both the texture and flavour boxes, its smoking process being the key element. The octopus is tender, which is neither obvious nor easy to render. It comes with tomatoes and chilli, two ingredients that work well with the light consistency of the flesh – there is, however, a lack of definition in the mouth, but the manager assured us they are already working on it.
The Kippers Carbonara, from the mains, sounds too good not to be tried. It’s a generous portion of pasta; of course I didn’t expect something properly Italian, but it would benefit from more sophistication in the sauce – although it should be praised for the lack of double cream, an easy shortcut the chef thankfully decided to avoid. The Char Grilled Gurnard is, on the other hand, a much lighter and on-point option: it’s served with salsify, sprouting broccoli, sorrel and salted anchovies.
Intrigued by the quality of the food, we decide to come back over the weekend to try the brunch menu. The Smoked Mackerel and Cauliflower Fritters is a mouthwatering dish, fresh and perfectly balanced. There are also two true classics on offer, the fish and chips – done with coley rather than cod or haddock – and steamed mussels with cider.
Highbury and Islington is slowly becoming a little foodie hub, and Trawler Trash makes its contribution with an alternative and astute take on seafood. From the nibbles to the mains, this restaurants shows it’s clearly run by a group of people who take the food business seriously.★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Trawler Trash, 205 Upper St London N1 1RQ, call 020 3637 7619 or visit here.