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Couple serve up tasteful design at Ceremony

Debut restaurant venture on the site of a defunct Indian takeaway has top-notch food and out-of-this-world cocktails – and don't miss the loos!

21 September, 2017 — By Tom Moggach

Ceremony’s menu is short but sweet

“IT’S all about the parrot wallpaper,” raves one guest, heading back to her table.

For me, it’s the gadget behind the well-stocked bar – blasting liquid nitrogen to freeze my cocktail glass.

Ceremony Restaurant, a new opening in Fortess Road in Tufnell Park, has got truckloads of style.

It’s a new cocktail bar and vegetarian restaurant, opened by a local couple on the site of a defunct Indian takeaway.

On first impression, the venue looked far too cramped for their first restaurant venture – a dream they’ve been simmering for years.

But Ali Dedianko and Joe Stokoe smashed out walls, ripped out the kitchen and hacked through the wild back garden – now planted with exotic edibles to spice up their menu.

The concept is to serve up delicious, top-notch food – that just happens to be vegetarian.

The sublime cocktails were the easy bit. Joe is an expert bartender and drinks consultant; building bars is woven into his DNA.

Ali is a vegetarian with a fierce creative streak: “As much as I love food and drink I really love interior design,” she says, surveying her transformed space.

The design of Ceremony deftly avoids the clichés of many new restaurants. Grab a stool at the narrow bar – a play of bold blue and geometric tiles, with flashes of gleaming metal and the zap of vertical strip lights piercing the ceiling. The dining tables are separated by low partition walls, softening up the acoustics and creating a cosy sense of intimacy.

Don’t miss the loos – home to the outrageous parrot and flamingo wallpapers.

At the bar, my Negroni was lifted with the subtle kick of mountain pepper.

Try the Rosadita: Belvedere vodka, manzanilla sherry, grapefruit sherbet and a splash of fizz.

The food menu is short and sweet. They source hyper-locally, with bread from The Spence Bakery, ice creams from Ruby Violet and intriguing vintages from Theatre of Wine.

Other ingredients come from the fledgling garden, planted by Of Butterflies and Bees – a local business that specialises in wildlife-friendly gardening.

Specimens include chokeberries, Japanese wineberry and vines winding up a trellis made from the kitchen’s old copper pipes.

I rated our leek rarebit for starters: chunks of oozy, soft leek scattered with cheesey breadcrumbs for texture.

Other options include grilled rainbow carrots with Puy lentils or crispy duck egg with polenta and wild mushrooms.

Best of the mains was a red coconut curry with sweet potato, served with a feisty lime-spiked Biryani rice.

My dish of pappardelle pasta was cooked precisely, with firm bite. But I felt it would benefit from more slippery lubrication – the slices of celeriac and pea shoots left the dish as a whole rather dry.

Puddings star fondant brownie, pavlova and local ice creams and sorbets.

Expect to pay £30-40 per head for dinner, with excellent service.

Ceremony is a delight: both stylish and friendly. The cocktails, in particular, are out of this world.

Ceremony Restaurant
131 Fortess Road, NW5
020 3302 4242
www.ceremonyrestaurant.london
Instagram: @ceremonyrestaurant

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