Heirloom, Crouch End

Sika deer from Heirloom restaurant, Crouch End, London

Sika deer (£16 I think)

For someone to whom music is probably as important as food I don’t remark on restaurants’ soundtrack choices nearly often enough. The right music can soothe awkward silences or enhance in-depth conversations and even – I swear – make your meal seem tastier. The wrong music can, and probably will, make me leave. Heirloom were a few tracks into ‘Abbey Road’ on vinyl when I blustered in at the very end of 2014 and that, in my opinion, means top marks. They earned top marks for service, too – so charming and professional from even before we got there that I found myself fondly looking at photos of their staff outing a week later. I stopped as soon as I realised how creepy that is, I promise.

The seasonal menu seems to be genuinely focused on what’s been dug up that week rather than just borrowing a trendy adjective, and the dishes are clearly designed to taste great rather than tick boxes – lamb hotpot ain’t trendy but it sure is delicious. Sika deer arrived daringly and perfectly rare but its flavour was a little meek underneath all the earthiness of roasted beetroot, hazelnuts and ceps. I suppose deer are naturally inclined to blend in, though. Mains were accompanied by a Rodriquez album, which gently led us to some tremendous desserts. A shy-looking slice of toffee cake turned out to be a real stunner.

In an area not short of restaurants but rather short of good ones, Heirloom is certainly worth hanging on to; it’s the sort of place where you’d like to be a regular, but even if you’re not they’ll make you feel like one. If I got warm smiles, lovely music and comfort food every time I went out for dinner I might never use my own kitchen.

Heirloom ★★★★✰   £££ 35 Park Road, N8 8TE


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