Every person should have a friend that they can just spend time with. Someone you don’t have to have a plan with, nor do anything with. Someone you can just exist next to. You’re familiar with each other, and it’s effortless, sitting in silence, in your underwear together, again. The same goes for neighbourhoods and restaurants. Every neighbourhood should have a place that’s nice, reliable, and there when you need it. Linden Stores could be Highbury’s.
This wine shop and restaurant is just really quite nice. It’s like knocking on your mate’s door unannounced and plopping yourself on the sofa. Equal amounts easy and comforting. The shop-restaurant setup means that people treat it like so. They come in for a glass of bubbly and a snack, before wandering out after half an hour or so. “See you in a bit”. Or they pop in, bouncing their bike off the door and into the living room sized restaurant, just to pick up a bottle. “I can’t remember what it was, we had it last week...whatever you say, I trust you”. This in-and-out, “you alright”, “see you later”, atmosphere is familiar. It’s lovely. And it’s not something that comes easy.
Similar to that friend’s sofa you’ve spent countless hours, days, nights, and eternities on, you can pitch up here with great ease. For a start, glasses of wine are a fiver. Even Freddo’s cost a fiver these days. This is almost certainly the friendliest wine shop pricing in London. The food is of the small sharing plates variety, obviously, which makes it very easy to dip in and out of. And best of all, there are no instructions or pressures. You just want the pea croquettes for now? Sure. And that’s a good choice because they’re delicious. Need to soak a bit of liquid up with the bread and marmite butter? Good idea. Oh, and marmite butter? We’ll have serious problems with anyone who claims to hate this stuff.
If there’s one complaint, it’s that the food isn’t always top notch. We’ve had an oxtail pie here that was so rich and satisfying, we’ve been dreaming about ever since, but some things fall flat, like lamb sweetbreads with bovril mayo, or broccoli with yoghurt and peanuts. Steamed broccoli? Do we look like we’re watching our weight? Not that we mind, because other things, like homemade bourbon biscuits with rhubarb liqueur ice cream, are down right delicious. And, to be honest, it doesn’t matter, because we think we're going to be coming back here alone, introducing it to a mate, or even someone we really like. Linden Store feels like a keeper.
A4-sized crisps of the chicken skin variety. Do they definitely need the cod’s roe? Not really. Do we care they have it? Not really.
The creamy, salty combination of butter and marmite is very moreish.
We don’t know if Jersey royals are the most tasty potato in the world, but we do know that when they’re crisped up, and served with wild garlic and duck egg, they’re pretty tasty.
If you see a word beginning croq- on a menu, you know things are okay. There’s gonna be some cheese, some crunch, and you’re going to wish there was more. These are no different.
’He’s taken a cockle from me wallet, nicked me keys, ’n torched the bloody place ‘n all’. This is a line Ray Winstone has probably said at some point, and probably inspired this dish. We’re glad it probably did, because it’s excellent.
After tasting a dish as rich as this, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would think of making pie with anything less than oxtail, or mash with anything less than bone marrow.
No, no, that’s not a door on your plate. That’s just an enormous piece of shortbread. This is familiar, sweet, and makes you feel in good spirits.
This is inspired. It’s like a Famous Five recipe come to life. “Julian! Dick! Come quick! I’m dipping a bourbon biscuit in Aunt Fanny’s rhubarb ice cream and it’s absolutely scrumptious!”