Just before Christmas, Como 3 began moving into 11=13 Therbeton St in Islington. A beautiful leg of jamon appeared in the window, and rows of glistening wine glasses could be seen from the street. The restaurant is divided into 2 sections; the main room consists of high-stool bar seating, while the 2nd room at the back is made up of small tables. A lot of money has clearly been invested into Como 3; a beautiful and expensive looking wine room has been built just off the back dining room, complete with a glass window etching of Como 3’s name. It’s a restaurant for adults and that suits me just fine.
The food is intriguingly a combination of Japanese and Spanish. Looking closer at the menu however shows that the Japanese and Spanish food exist on 2 separate menus. You can order from one or the other or do what we did and cross-over into both.
We initially ordered glasses of the Genmai aged sake, the only sake option able to order by the glass; all others were a full bottle. We were cautioned that the Genmai was not like other sake, and as it was aged was more akin to almost a whiskey in flavour. We were brought a tiny bit to try; a lovely gesture, one much appreciated as the aged sake wasn’t to our taste. More options of sake by glass wouldn’t go astray for those not wanting wine not a whole bottle of sake. One area where options are definitely not lacking is the wine section. Wines are extensively listed by area, including small maps, and the types of food best matched back with.
2 complimentary bites were brought out, little bites of a terrine on bread.
In an effort to eat some vegetables, we ordereed the grilled vegetable salad. Expecting only the usual boring vegetables, this was surprisingly great – swiped through the port sauce, gave a sweet tangy flavour, while other had the smokey charcoal from the grill. In time of heavy and rich restaurant dishes; where burgers and fries are king; it was so refreshing to have a vegetable dish that was bright and more creative that simply a boring salad.
A plate of pan-boli from the Spanish menu was curiously served on wholemeal bread. I am a complete heathen and would have preferred boring old unhealthy white. This is more my issue than anything to do with Como 3.
Switching back to the Japanese menu, a plate of pork and vegetable gyoza arrived. These gyoza had clearly never seen the inside of a freezer; the dumpling skins were so fresh and soft. It did feel odd to be eating them with a knife and fork instead of the usual chopsticks, but it did mean I ate my share much quicker than usual. A serving each is in order next time.
The scallops, also from the Japanese menu, were a winner. Perched on top of mixed seaweed, it was geat match to the sweet scallop.
Bites of calamari were a bit difficult to skewer onto forks, but lovely swiped through the creamy bright sauce.
The Iberico pork cheeks were sadly my least favourite of all the dishes. I had visions in my head of pork cheeks cooked for hours until they fell apart with the poke of a fork. These had been cooked for much much less time and erred on the side of being too tough. I like the corn cake served next to it, but without the sweet sticky falling apart meat to sit on top, it went to waste.
From the desserts menu, Duncan chose the coffee and lemon grass creme brulee. No bites were offered to me, but there were no complaints from him either.
There was no way I wasn’t going to choose the pandan macaron with white chocolate and yuzu mousse. The creamy filling had just the right touch of yuzu, and worked well with the chewy macaron. On the side, a bright and tart citrussy sorbet.
In a constant effort to romanticise everything, I suspect the 2 owners are the Spanish man and Japanese woman running the floor. In my head they’ve been married for years, and this restaurant is a labour of love for them, which probably isn’t that far from the truth. I love that they have made the decision to bring together the cuisines from their background, but I do wish there was more of a cross-over between the 2 cuisines, rather than there being 2 separate and distinct menu’s. Service was lovely and polite, if a little bit slow. Towards the end it felt like the back room had perhaps been forgotten, but we weren’t in a rush, and happy to relax and wait.
I follow Como 3 on Twitter and they sporadically tweet various special’s on the menu, so there are definitely new treats in store including a waguy dish. There is also a mid-week lunch set menu that I have my eye on to go back and try. It does feel like the Como 3 is still a work in progress, which truth be told I’m ok with – I honestly do think they will get better the longer they are open. At the moment, the Japanese options were the stronger of the two; just a little bit more inventive and better executed. It’s the kind of neighbourhood place to drop in, have a glass of wine and a few small plates. Lovely.