Last week I finally checked out Rök and it’s been on my ‘London restaurant wishlist’ for what feels like forever. It’s a Scandi smokehouse and first opened about a year ago in Shoreditch, but recently they opened up a second branch on Islignton’s Upper Street. It’s been ranked #8 in Time Out’s Top 100 London Restaurants which was exactly the kick up the arse I needed to try it out. It’s no surprise it’s ranked so highly – it’s different, authentic and completely delicious.
If you’re ever stuck in a room with my dad there’s three things he’ll talk about – his work, how you should insulate your house, and his love of all things Scandinavian – oh dads, who would have them? I knew he would love Rök as soon as I told him that it actually means smoke in Swedish.
It’s an unassuming little place (and I actually walked past it twice). The interior design nods to the Nordic chic, with white walls and dark wooden tables. It’s minimalist, which is definitely to my liking.
To start, get the pickles (we got all four). Their menu is ever changing but the celeriac and cucumber ones were my two favorites. They’re the perfect thing to nibble on whilst you sample their wine and beer…
Next, the fish course. My dad and I both opted for their soused mackerel with creme fraiche and pickled onions. It was the best mackerel I’ve ever had, it was so tender and delicious. My mum and sister also raved about the mussels which were cooked in Wu Gang Chops beer and topped with samphire.
Now, we get to the meats dishes. We all immediately went for their pigeon – because when do you ever see pigeon on a menu for only £12? I thought I was only going to get a measly piece of breast, but I was pleasantly surprised when the dish arrived. It was accompanied by blackberries and a hazelnut mash of sorts. The hazelnut mash was a bit too rich for my liking, but I globed it down all the same.
In typical London style, you have to order all your side dishes separately. I can’t remember what half of them were but the blackened sweet potatoes when down a treat, along with this rice and vastebotton dish – who knew rice with cheese was so good?
After all that food, we certainly could not cope with dessert. It’s no surprise that Rök has made my London favorites. If you get the mackerel and pigeon, you’ll definitely leave a happy punter as I did.
Rök, 149 Upper Street, London, N1 1RA