I recently cut a mate out of my life. After one too many last-minute cancellations, a disastrous lads’ holiday to Berlin, and an incident involving a box of Pop Tarts, it was time to make a clean break. Of course, nothing my friend ever did was malicious. His intentions were always good. But unfortunately, intentions only get you so far in life. What really matters are results. Even when it comes to dinner.
Which brings us to Dandy, a cafe and restaurant in Stoke Newington Green. Dandy is a neighbourhood place that ticks all the trendy restaurant boxes - specialty coffee, natural wine, seasonal food, earnest blokes with beards... it even started out as a shipping container in Hackney, for god’s sake. But despite all that ‘intent’, the end result isn’t much to get excited about.
Like a bad friend’s well-worn excuses, the food at Dandy is the kind of ‘globally inspired’ stuff that’s become tediously familiar in London: chargrilled vegetables, peas on toast, pork belly, things with miso, everything with miso. And none of it is particularly good.
Most of the things we’ve eaten here come across as though they are meant to impress rather than satisfy, and that’s before you take into account the generally mediocre execution. To make matters worse, the restaurant has a ‘when it’s gone, it’s gone’ policy, which is true for most restaurants we suppose, but Dandy tends to run out of things quickly. And nobody likes setting their heart on one thing from the menu, only to learn that someone at another table is halfway through the last portion.
As for the rest of it, Dandy is full of aesthetic intent. The interior feels trendy - like a cafe or canteen with white walls, wood tables, and a handful of plants. We were actually surprised by how casual it feels, given how serious the dinner menu is and how serious the staff seems to take everything. But it is a nice place for a coffee and a pastry, both of which they serve during the day.
If you do hit Dandy for dinner, prepare yourself for a lot of earnestness, and probably something with miso in it. But unfortunately, you can’t eat good intentions. And that’s the only thing Dandy seems to never run out of.
Some words just don’t go together, like ‘moist’ and ‘guava’, or ‘naked’ and ‘confident’. ‘BBQ’ and ‘turnip’ don’t belong in the same sentence together, either. Skip it.
This should have been fresh and tasty, but ended up as a bland heap of ingredients on some perfectly good bread. Here, the salt shaker is your best friend.
This salad tastes like it could come from a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant, if you were to remove all of the flavour and douse it in citrus.
If you’re going to be making lahmacun (Turkish pizza) down the road from Green Lanes, you’d better get it right. The version here is all kinds of unpleasant - soggy bread and watery cooking liquid seeping from the edges. No thanks.