Last Sunday, my friend and I had lunch inside a bright red truck parked inside an old garage. As you may have gathered, this is no ordinary place to dine. This is PipsDish at The Garage - a hidden, self-styled restaurant tucked off Upper Street in trendy Islington. As you enter the old Citroen repair workshop via a small red door, you find yourself in a wonderful, huge space full of long tables with checked cloths; antique cupboards and shelves creaking with vintage crockery, and wicker baskets laden with farm fresh fruit and veg. And as it is the season to be jolly, there was a merry smattering of festive fairy lights, decorations and a Christmas tree to add to this enchanting gem of a restaurant.
The Chefs/Hosts/Brain Wizards behind this unique establishment are Philip 'Pip' Dundas and his fabulous kitchen 'soulmate', Mary Doherty who really are a culinary Dream Team. They originally created PipsDish as a temporary dining experience, but its enormous popularity has meant it's here to stay a while longer. Thank goodness! The decor is rustic and simple, with the focus being on the kitchen which takes centre stage as Pip and Mary beaver away producing delicious, wholesome and impromptu dishes of home-cooked grub. The blackboard on the wall details the menu being offered each day, and sometimes you'll find a couple of choices, whilst other times it's a set menu which adds to the intrigue of wondering what delicacies you'll be devouring. Believe me, you won't be disappointed.
Chicken Liver Pâté served with toasted sourdough
Cauliflower & Horseradish Soup
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Steak & Woodpigeon Pie served with Roast Potatoes & Kale
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Homemade Chocolate Mousse
Manchego Cheese Plate with Quince
Being hungry (and greedy) so and so's, we sampled the lot, apart from the chocolate mousse which due to popular demand, shot off the menu before we got a look in. I can honestly say that absolutely everything was delicious - perfect hearty, winter fodder. Other dishes you may find on Pip's menu include Shorthorn Boeuf Bourguignon; Squid stuffed with Chorizo & Tomato; Baked Peach Alaska with Chantilly Ice-cream, and Homemade Lemon Creams with Shortbread. Yum!
When Pip's not busy creating culinary magic, he's creating perfect cookbooks. His first one 'Cooking Without Recipes' is already published (and available in the restaurant), and there's a second one in the pipeline. PipsDish is open for dinner on Thursday, Friday & Saturday, offering canapes followed by a creative 3 course meal. Sunday lunches at PipsDish are epic and a perfectly quirky way to while away a Sunday afternoon. As PipsDish is BYO (with no corkage fee), it really is affordable and worth every tasty morsel. Also on Sunday, kids under 8 years old eat for free, and those under 12 can eat for half price. Pip and Mary's generosity doesn't stop there - they're so kind and thoughtful that they're working with AgeUK to provide free nourishing lunches for the local elderly folk on a weekly basis. So if you know any old people around Islington, do point them in Pip's direction. Or better still, take an elderly person with you and treat them to a meal they won't forget. With a dining capacity of around 45 covers, it's also very much worth considering hiring out PipsDish as an ideal venue for your next party. But not til I've booked mine first!
Miss Immy was a guest of PipsDish. Big thanks Pip & Mary!
133B Upper Street
London N1 1 QP
Nearest stations: Angel or Highbury & Islington
Tel: 07503 293 438
Dinner: Thur, Fri & Sat (3 courses & canapes @ £30)
Sunday lunch 1pm (3 courses @ £25 or main course only £15)