Prawn on the Lawn had already piqued my interest back in October when I saw its name bouncing around Twitter and being playfully discussed by celebrities – both the foodie types and just the funny ones. In fact it had seemed like such big news that I was fairly taken aback to find such small premises on St. Paul’s Road in Islington. If I weren’t on a mission to find it then I might very well have missed it. I’m glad I didn’t.
Prawn on the Lawn is a fishmonger and a seafood bar. Bar is the crux here. If you are the kind of diner who might look for somewhere with tables then keep walking. There is an economy of space in this fishy venture but to reference an old cliché, size doesn’t matter…it’s what you do with it that counts. And Prawn on the Lawn, under the leadership of Rick Toogood, is doing very good things indeed with it.
I had been a bit concerned by the fact that originally the Bar exclusively sold cold dishes. As much as oysters and champagne would have been a summer treat, I thought they might leave me wanting in December. However it seems this feeling has been widespread and the daily changing menu now contains hot and cold sharers and larger dishes.
We had the ’Prawn on the Lawn’ their signature dish of guacamole and prawns on soda bread with coriander and lime, then a monkfish and chorizo stew, seared tuna with spring onions and soy and a squid and cuttlefish stew with butter beans. Perhaps with the exception of the final dish, which was a little bland and chewy, each plate was morish with cleverly balanced and interesting flavours. If your experience of seafood is a fish pie or cod in parsley sauce then I commend you to give Prawn on the Lawn a go and let seafood be reinvented. Whether you want delicate or wholesome, traditional or exotic then Prawn on the Lawn offers not only all the options but staff who can help you discern the best choices for you.
The team is a huge strength of Prawn on the Lawn and both their expertise and appreciation of seafood shines through. Behind Prawn on the Lawn’s slightly gimmicky name there are genuine staff who can talk fish. During our meal we heard about why ingredients had been put together, where the fish had come from and how the local salmon smoker plays the piano to help bring out the best flavour in his fish. It might sound try-hard but it felt refreshingly un-London to be in such a small and specialist venue where the attention of the staff was fully invested in helping diners to understand the menu and have the best experience.
The restaurant filled quickly and it is a lovely, atmospheric alternative for dinner and a glass of prosecco after work. A colleague I caught the train with commented that if I liked this place then it would be the third or fourth classy new eatery to come to the area in just a few months. Well, I can confirm, after a lovely evening at Prawn on the Lawn, St Paul’s Road is ’up and coming’. I never quite know what that means but you should take from it that it’s worth popping down to Highbury and Islington to check this neighbourhood out.
Check out more details about the restaurant here: http://prawnonthelawn.com/
Written by Fran Lechler