The Sitara – Archway

Reviewed on February 15th, 2012 by Dina

As it was a week of ongoing celebrations, this meant that there were a fair amount of meals out! On this particular evening, we decided to stay local and opted for The Sitara.

The Sitara describes itself as “The Indian Jazz Restaurant”! We were intrigued and not quite sure what to expect. Entering the restaurant, we were welcomed by the friendly staff. Framed pictures lined the red walls, tables lit by candlelight and jazz music softly playing in the background all contributed to the mood of The Sitara.

Our round table had the turntable in the centre, which made it a lot easier for us to share the dishes throughout our meal. As the menus were black, we had a little bit of trouble reading them as the restaurant was dimly lit. The kitchen was at the back of the restaurant and it was nice that we could see the food being prepared from the dining area.

For the starters, we had the meat samosas, pakoras and special mixed grill. The meat samosas came as a portion of two and were filled with minced meat and onions. The pakoras were deep fried onion bhajees and were fairly spicy.

The favourite was the special mixed grill. A sizzling plate of tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, sheekh kebab and lamb tikka. All of the meat was cooked perfectly and it had a wonderful delicious thick sauce. The sauce of onions, tomatoes, fenugreek and capsicum completed this special mixed grill.

Originally, we chose a few main dishes to share as we were not sure how big they were going to be. The main curries came in small silver bowls and after they were brought to the table, we decided that an extra one was needed. A selection of meat, chicken, lamb, vegetables and fish made up the main meal.

The karahi chicken was a tomato based dish with tender chicken cubes. The tasty sauce was made with garlic, spices and capsicum. The saag gosht had a fair amount of spinach in it and the taste slightly overpowered the lamb. Saying that though, it was still nice enough.

The dish that we added at the later stage was the fish masala. There was a good amount of cod pieces coated in the masala sauce. The fish was not overcooked and remained flaky.

For the vegetarian option, the matar panir was chosen. You can’t go wrong with the cooked cubes of cheese, together with peas in a spiced tomato sauce. We were also tempted by the classic dal tarka but this will have to wait for another visit.

To accompany the curries, rice, plain naans and garlic naans were chosen. The naans were piping hot and were freshly made. The rice was served on oval silver dishes.

The staff made sure that everything was the way we wanted throughout the meal. Even though the food was freshly made, we didn’t have to wait too long for our meal.

The Sitara is a gem of a restaurant! It’s great that all the food at The Sitara is made fresh to order and not prepared beforehand. The Sitara will definitely be our local Indian restaurant of choice!

The Sitara, 784 Holloway Road, Archway, London, N19 3JH

Rating: ★★★★½

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Spaghi Pizzeria Ristorante – Archway

Reviewed on June 10th, 2011 by Dina

Spaghi is a lovely local Italian restaurant! It is situated on the busy island opposite Archway station. But once inside the restaurant, the traffic can barely be heard!

The inside of Spaghi is made up of the dining area together with an open kitchen. The back of the restaurant opens out into a pretty area decorated with a wall of fairy lights! The restaurant is fairly spacious; it has dark wooden furniture, an ornate fireplace and small decorations!

For our starter, we had the Melanzana Parmigiana. This was a baked dish of sliced aubergines in a tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella. The tomato sauce was really tasty and it was good that there was a generous amount of aubergines in the dish.  The Melanzana Parmigiana wasn’t too rich and creamy, which made it a good starter dish.

The menu had lots of pasta and pizza mains. We fancied some risotto though but this was not on the menu. We asked the staff if they did risotto, just on the off chance that it was one of their specials that we hadn’t noticed. The staff said that unfortunately they did not have risotto on the menu at the moment.

While we were deciding on the main meal, the same member of staff came over to us and said that the chef could make us a risotto as long as we didn’t mind waiting a short while for it. We were really taken aback that Spaghi would make a meal especially for us. We were offered seafood or mushroom risotto; we went for the latter. For our side dishes, we had sauteed potatoes and grilled vegetables.

The risotto had lots of mushrooms and we could tell that it was a freshly cooked. The risotto was a hearty dish, although we found it slightly salty. But I’m sure that if we ordered it again next time and asked for less salt, the chef would be able to accommodate us.

The grilled vegetables were a selection of aubergines, courgettes and peppers. The sauteed potatoes were sliced new potatoes. It all went well to make our meal complete!

Instead of dessert, we had peppermint tea. It was served by the cup not by the pot. There was also freshly squeezed juices on the menu.

Spaghi really impressed us with its staff, service and quality of food. At the end of the meal, the chef came over to chat to us. He told us that all the food was freshly cooked to order and that he doesn’t have the dishes prepared beforehand. He also told us that he makes all the desserts on the menu and none of them are just bought in. You could tell he was proud of his cooking and the restaurant, and he had every right to be!

Spaghi Pizzeria Ristorante, 6 Archway Close, Archway, London, N19 3TD

Rating: ★★★★½

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Hamlet Cafe – Hornsey Road, Islington

Reviewed on September 1st, 2009 by Lee

I have walked past this cafe every day for months, and never gave it a second look until now.  Maybe it’s because secretly I’m a snob, or maybe it’s because I have a tendancy to judge a cafe based on it’s neighbourhood.  Whatever my reasons for not trying this cafe before today, I’ve learnt these two valuable lessons…one, never judge a cafe by it’s neighbourhood and two, stop being such a snob!

From the outside it really doesn’t look like much, but this probably has to do more with the area than the cafe itself.  Once inside though, it’s a completely different story.  The cafe is very clean and stylish, with both indoor and outdoor seeting.  There’s also a small lounge area with sofas.  A great deal of effort has obviously gone into the decor.

Hamlet CafeHamlet CafeHamlet Cafe

When it comes to choice, the Hamlet menu tops the bill.  Whether you simply fancy a light snack, tasty salad or a builders lunch, the menu has it all.  But this is me remember, so  I ordered burger and chips!!

The staff at Hamlet Cafe are extremely friendly and I didn’t feel pressured into placing my order, though it did take me a while.

Excellent selection of food and beverages, brilliant atmosphere and great staff.  If you ever find yourself passing by Hornsey Road, I highly recommend that you take a break at Hamlet Cafe.

Hamlet Cafe, 437 Hornsey Road, Islington, London, N19 4DU

Rating: ★★★★☆

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