Fancy that!

The DLR was fortunate enough to be taken for dinner the other day, and chose A Little Of What You Fancy in Dalston as the venue. If someone else is paying for dinner, thought we, then we’re not going to have takeaway from The Best Turkish Kebab again, even if it really is the best Turkish kebab (Dalstonfact: the picture of David Schwimmer in TBTK is because he married a woman from Stokey and popped in there recently for a ‘bab after a wedding. Wallop! FACT all over your face).

The first thing to notice about ALOWYF is that it’s hard to notice. A relatively benign shop frontage without substantial signage, it’s easy to see why one might walk right past it. Inside, there is something a bit knowingly twee about the place, from the poster resembling the Keep Calm and Carry On design to the distressed cabinet and school furniture. Which is all very relevant, given that the restaurant is named after an early 20th century British music hall song.

The inside of ALOWYF: a bit like my primary school, but with more sharp cutlery.

As soon as we arrived in the quaint surroundings of ALOWYF, though, we were immediately informed by our dinner companion that this was no longer the place the kids went to. Oh no, this was six months old, and in Dalston six months is a long time. Instead, all the young people with a predilection for turn-ups and a bellyfull of the Haggerston have instead opted for a place a few doors down, Power Lunches. This was confirmed by a turnout that filled about half the tables; the clientele now appeared to be older hipsters, or young hipsters taking their parents somewhere nice that they couldn’t usually afford.

Undeterred, we powered on, ordering various courses from the locally sourced, British seasonal menu (someone else is paying, right? We may as well go big). It was a solid-looking menu; nothing too innovative, but pleasing in its familiarity. The fig and goat’s cheese salad, for instance, had a mid-2000s ring to it, but as a sucker for figs we can’t begrudge its inclusion. Rabbit was a good addition and featured heavily, with a starter proving delicious.

ALOWYF is run by two friends, Laurence Coone (left) and Elaine Chalmers (right), who first bonded over the bullying they received from their similar cabbagefaces.

The food was by and large of a decent quality, but little stood out and smacked us about our collective face with a kipper (even the mackerel, which was delicately balanced by beetroot). Desserts were perhaps the highlight, with decent cheesecake and a meringue the size of a small man’s head: certainly this was visually impressive but after about 30% we started to grow tired of eating hardened sugary egg whites. Baking generally is a forte at ALOWYF, which explains their ambition to be open all day, serving well-made cakes to otherwise-too-thin clients.

Our experience was certainly a positive one, benefiting not only from the interesting companionship, but also from the fact that our waitress was previously from one of our favourite locals, the Prince Arthur in London Fields, and is lovely. The food was well-prepared, hearty in its proportions and more than satisfying. With an ever-changing menu, there is certainly the variety to ensure return visits. A little of A Little Of What You Fancy certainly does you good. Although we will no doubt try out Power Lunches about a year after it’s become unfashionable.

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