Around Finsbury Park and Highbury there are lots of places to eat, but this is an area where beer comes first. Freshly made naans and late-night bagels come second. Things are always changing along the Blackstock Road though. A carpeted boozer with a framed picture of Arsene Wenger isn’t your only option for a drink and a snack. Nowadays you can get adana kofte, a bottle of Argentinian orange, or an 18 inch pizza, all along this one stretch. And now Top Cuvée is part of the group.
Top Cuvée is a spacious wine bar and restaurant off the Blackstock Road that’s a fine addition to the area for anybody looking for a couple of glasses and a couple of croquettes before being on their merry way. The menu here is split between picky things and things to share, which makes sense because this is a drinking and eating place, not vice versa. House terrine is good, salads are nice, burrata is burrata. These are things best suited to nibbling at, but the more you eat here, the less convincing things get. First, terrine. Good. Then, soda bread. Alright. Next, mussels. Okay. Before, asparagus. What’s that curdled stuff? Finally, pork. Pork? Did we order the pork? Oh, it’s actually quite nice.
As a restaurant Top Cuvée can feel slightly hit or miss, but as a bar it’s far more consistent. It’s big, open, and you can lean or perch or do whatever you like, whilst picking on some ham, and sipping on a glass from the daily-changing natural wine list. Serving as the ‘oh this little place’ location on a first or second date is where it comes into its own. Or as a ‘let’s grab a drink here’ if you want something that isn’t a pub in the area.
If you’re looking for food that’ll make you reconsider your life then this isn’t the place and, also, well, get a life. It doesn’t really matter that the food here isn’t necessarily worth travelling for, because not every bar or restaurant needs that. They need good atmosphere, good service, and good drinks. All of which Top Cuvée has. Just don’t come here when you fancy a pint of the black stuff.
Bread And Whipped Butter
Is this the best bread in London? No. But it is some nice soda bread, and the butter is very, very creamy.
At £2.50 a pop, you might expect these sweet potato and sage croquettes to be quite special. Sadly they’re not. They fall distinctly into the ‘meh’ category.
£7 for a slab of terrine, sourdough, and pickles is a good deal. This is exactly what you want to eat with wine, without wine, in bed, sod it, whenever.
Mussels in XO Sauce
These mussels aren’t bad, but you’d expect a punch what with them being in XO sauce. They’re a bit of a let down flavour-wise. They’re fine. Only nobody wants to be called fine, do they?
An extremely inoffensive plate of food. It’s the restaurant equivalent of bringing coleslaw to a barbecue. Tasty enough and you know it’s going to get eaten.
Asparagus, Beurre Noisette, Wild Garlic
You know when you see somebody take their shoes and socks off on public transport? And you think, that is rank. And also, that is not right. Well, that’s how we felt about this asparagus with a thick and curdled butter sauce. Not. Right.
After eating this you’ll probably start trying to put anchovy dressing on everything at home. Toast. Pasta. Yourself. This is a perfect plate for sharing, and it’s probably the best thing here.
Braised Pork Shoulder, Mushroom Puree, Onion
This reads like it will be a hunk of meat but, surprise! It’s a big fishfinger-sized croquette. And it’s filled with juicy pork shoulder. It tastes pretty good too.