Jolene, London N16: restaurant review
We try silky smooth pumpkin ravioli soaked in sage butter, grilled stone bass basked in creamy sauce and flourless chocolate cake with molten centre at this Stoke Newington restaurant
Looking for restaurants in Stoke Newington? Read our review of Jolene, and check out more suggestions for eating in Stoke Newington here.
Jolene in a nutshell
From the team behind north London's Westerns Laundry and Primeur comes Jolene, a restaurant and bakery using grains grown in Norfolk, Gascony and Goodwood, all milled on-site to retain their natural goodness.
What’s the vibe?
A cool yet cosy neighbourhood joint in leafy Newington Green that attracts a friendly crowd of locals. Striped back to basics, plastered walls, zinc tables and exposed pipes are warmed up by flickering tea lights, and single stems of red berries cast shadows onto white walls.
Take a seat at the long bar area to catch a glimpse of the chefs at work in the open kitchen, or, in the warmer months, lounge on the outdoor benches sipping punchy negronis and slathering butter onto hunks of sourdough.
What’s the food like at Jolene?
A daily changing menu displayed on a blackboard is split into nibbles, smaller plates, sharing mains, sides and desserts, all with a focus on seasonal ingredients and grains.
On our visit, we tried warm doughy flatbreads dripping with garlic butter; chunks of romanesco came topped with toasted flaked almonds and juicy raisins, while the sweet, roasted carrots were a highlight, served with chopped hazelnuts, fresh mint and creamy whipped curd – so good we scraped the plate clean.
The plates of grains come one after another, and it’s best to get a couple to share. Silky smooth ravioli, generously filled with smooth pumpkin purée, soaks in a sage butter sauce, while the malloreddus and sausage ragu celebrates all that is great about carbs. Chewy shells soak up the rich, rosemary sauce while chunks of sausage add a bit of bite, all covered in a frilly blanket of parmesan.
Mains are made for sharing with a couple of sides, too. Flaky grilled stone bass basked in a creamy, salty butter sauce, while al dente bitter greens helped lighten the dish. Roast potatoes aren’t quite the same as what you serve with your Sunday lunch (try our perfect roasties recipe here), but still, the chunks are fluffy with a lightly roasted skin.
Don’t miss out on dessert, where the flourless chocolate cake rivals that of The River Cafes, with an almost molten centre and crisp exterior. The generous dollop of crème fraîche on the side mixes with the melting chocolate, meaning you’ll want to mop up the final morsels of sweetness. For a lighter dessert, choose the tart with its crisp, buttery pastry encasing frangipane and sweet, sticky plums.
And the drinks?
An all-natural wine menu split into sparkling, whites and reds offers mainly European varieties. Sip on a glass of skin-contact grüner from Burgenland with a peachy, tropical funk, or go sweet with passito, a full-bodied raisin wine with warm cinnamon notes.
The restaurant only serves dinner Thursday till Sunday, but you can get your Jolene fix on a Tuesday and Wednesday when brunch and lunch is served. Be sure to peruse the counter, brimming with loaves of sourdough, hearty sausage rolls and fresh-from-the-oven madeleines.
Written by Ellie Edwards
Photographs by Patricia Niven