Have you ever put somewhere on your list that you had a real hankering to visit but wanted to wait until you had enough time to truly enjoy it? Somewhere that you were almost a little bit afraid to try for fear that it might not live up to the sky high expectations you had of it after hearing rave reviews?
Welcome to the Pistachio & Pickle, just such a place for me.
One visit. That’s all it took. Just one little visit and I am now officially in love with this Islington coffeshop.
‘What is it that you like so much?’ I hear you cry, ‘Is it the environment? The friendly staff? The amazing food? The sunlit patio out the back? The fact that it’s only 10 minutes from your house?’
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The Pistachio & Pickle is both a wonderful little deli situated on the cobbled stones of Camden Passage and a gorgeous coffeeshop a mere hop, skip and jump away on Liverpool Road. Owned and run by a self-proclaimed trained architect as skillful with dumplings and soup as with blueprints and set squares and a professionally trained wine connoisseur with a penchant for elegant cocktails and necessarily-messy-to-be-worth-it burgers, if the cute but understated exterior doesn’t pique your interest, the fabulous display of artisan pastries, muffins and baked goods no doubt will.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – one of the best things about eating with someone is you have the option of trying two dishes in one sitting. Of course, I’m not gonna say I’ve never considered that option when dining alone but generally, hard as it may be to believe from the way I wax lyrical about all things foodie, I stick with a one person-one dish rule.
What to do when faced with a menu which I promise you, advertised nothing I didn’t want to eat? Check that your dining partner doesn’t mind sharing and plump for two dishes at opposite ends of the spectrum.
By the way, when I say ‘check’, a cursory-no-answer-required ‘that’s cool with you right?’ is perfectly acceptable and pretty much how J and I ended up with a breakfast burrito and beans and brioche French toast served with yoghurt, berries and crushed pistachios.
Having spent time in California, I’m very familiar with the popularity of breakfast burritos – usually containing scrambled eggs, chorizo and potato and popular especially in Mexican cuisine – but they don’t seem to have infiltrated the UK in the same way or at least not in a way that’s comparable with the flavour, ingredients and skills that seem to come naturally on the West Coast. Something told me however that ordering it here would be a good idea.
I was wrong.
It was a very good idea. Large enough to comfortably share, this burrito boasted a fresh, warm tortilla encasing light and fluffy scrambled eggs, softly spiced onions and gorgeously juicy and generous mouthfuls of chorizo. Sour cream drizzles cooled the pleasant heat that came from the finely sliced chilli and coriander that was scattered over the top and the side of rich, tomato covered beans was the perfect accompaniment.
From the spicy food of American-Mexican culture to the sweeter stuff of European, a decadently large serving of French toast was eaten alongside the burrito. Plump slices of golden fried brioche oozed with syrup while the tart yoghurt and berries sliced through the sugariness and the beautiful green pistachios lent a crunch to the otherwise velvety soft dish.
Ranging from the familiar chocolate brownies to the bang-on-trend salted caramel muffins to the picnic-perfect filled bagels, the choice of home-made baked goods to take home and continue treating yourself with was large and difficult to choose from.
A chorizo Scotch egg and a custard filled doughnut formed a goody bag for us to take home and they were insanely good. The Scotch egg was crispy without being tough, the chorizo meat was exceptionally soft and the yolk was rich and golden and utterly perfect.
If you’d offered me £100 to eat the doughnut without licking my lips, your money would have remained safely tucked inside your wallet. Fresh, sweet and with a fall-apart-in-your-mouth-texture, my inner greedy gal finished it in seconds and half contemplated walking back for another.
One of the things I like almost as much as finding somewhere new myself is sharing it with others and so far, I think I’ve told, oh, only everyone I know that there is a place in N1 that really throws its hat in the ring as a contender for best brunch in town.
Everywhere has their own unique selling point; for some it’s colossal portions sizes, for others its specializing in a particular style of food. The Pistachio & Pickle is simply amazing food served with confidence, style and a welcome as warm as the burrito I haven’t quite got out of my head yet…