There is a Rok in Islington and it’s interesting that I got there before I got to the one on my doorstep in Shoreditch. Up, at what I consider to be the wrong end of Upper Street has sprung this little Scandinavian gem. With the name (and two little dots over the o) you would think it would be all pickled herring and meatball. Not at all, it is a simple menu on a small A5 piece of paper, similar to what the other cool cats are doing like Popolo. Not necessarily about sharing, the dishes come on small plates and if you want to, you can taste a selection of dishes if you are more than a party of one.
The vibe is chilled. A team of young guys work the room, having a wee bit of banter amongst themselves. They still look after you and you get to eye up the open plan kitchen if you are close enough. A long narrow room at the front is great for a little intimacy between two, with bigger spaces to the rear. A very simple decor does not distract from what is interesting food.
I went for starter of scallops in a creamy nduja mush and seaweed. I say mush, as I am not sure what to call it, but please don’t feel put off by it, it was absolutely lush. Spicy sausage paste (nduja) is increasingly becoming a thing, mostly debuting on pizza, but now on the shelve to buy at your local M&S as well as appearing in an array of dishes.
For my main course it was a leg of duck on a bed of lingonberry jam with some wild mushrooms. Lingonberry is an acquired taste and whilst I get why it was partnered with the duck, I am not a fan of sweet things. It overpowered the dish a little, so I pushed that to the side. The duck was gorgeous though, in fact, without the need for anything else. I had a side of blackened broccoli with rich nori rice, macadenia and vasterbotten smothered all over. Again, if you lean more to the side of subtle, this is probably not for you. That said, there are some great alternative options to suit all tastebuds. In fact, one big plus for me was that they had orange wine, another 2017 fad. Of course, orange wine has been around for a while, but it is really being pushed to front and centre now. For me, I just love the dry and nuttiness of it.
Rok is cool. It is a foodie place for when you want to try something out of the norm.
149 Upper Street