18 Stoke Newington High Street London, N16 7PL www.victorymansion.co.uk
Gabriella tucks into tiny tacos at the Stoke Newington stalwart.
It seems like everyone is catching on to Stoke Newington and its slightly rougher and readier neighbour Dalston, with a plethora of new venues opening in the last twelve months.
Among all these upstarts, Victory Mansion has become something of a fixture of on Stoke Newington High Street. Originally made famous with small plates in the style of Nopi’s Yotam Ottolenghi, new head chef, Tim Yates has decided to mix things up.
The short-but -sweet menu has been totally re-written and is now jam-packed with what Victory Mansion calls Ta-kos Ã¢â‚¬â€œ small hand-made tacos packed with Asian-inspired fillings.
The first thing that strikes you about Victory Mansion is the relaxed atmosphere. Behind an unassuming faÃƒÂ§ade there’s quirky dÃƒÂ©cor, good music and comfortable seating.
We arrive on a chilly Wednesday evening and the quiet, dimly lit interior is perfect for a date-night. You can see how things can really liven up in here too with the venue lending itself to larger groups as well as couples.
Long evenings at the Victory could well be fuelled by an innovative and unusual cocktail menu. We kick things off with a couple of beauties Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a Winston Smith and a Holden Caulfield drawn from an extensive cocktail list inspired by famous works of literature.
The Winston Smith is a tropical delight, plenty of rum, amaretto, pineapple and lime served in a china pirate’s head tankard. The Holden Caulfield is supremely drinkable Ã¢â‚¬â€œ vodka-based and served with delicious acidified apple dusted with dried raspberry.
But we’re really here for the ta-kos. Yates cut his teeth in Thai cuisine in his native Oz and there are influences here from right across South East Asia all wrapped up in a South American staple Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a small but perfectly formed soft tortilla.
Because the menu is deliberately brief we’re able to order just about everything Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with the staff recommending three to four tacos plus a side order per person.
Nahm Jim chicken with, pickles and crispy onion; torched seabream with mackerel pate, and red pepper pork neck are all delicious however the blackened river trout with smoked aubergine and the palm sugar glazed beef short rib with pickled watermelon really stands out.
There are some lovely veggie options here too with fermented yellow bean leeks, haloumi and sweet potato; crispy cauliflower, black beans and tamarind ragu; and charred sprouting broccoli and spring onion with salted duck egg meaning there’s plenty to choose from for non-carnivores.
The sides are super too. We’re tempted by the Asian slaw and the charred corn with creamy mayo, however we are guided towards the speciality’MSG’ fries. Based on an Australian speciality these aren’t really fries as we know them.
Instead, thick slices of potato are coated in a crisp nori batter before being deep-fried and served with chicken salt and kampot pepper mayo these are deliciously moreish and worth the trip to Stoke Newington alone!
We round things off with the only two options from the desert menu. A generous cheese platter and Chocolate Madeleines washed down with a couple of glasses of wine, including an unusual but very drinkable yellow wine.
The Madeleines are especially yummy. Warm and moist on the inside with a pleasant tang of orange and smothered in Amaretto cream.
Victory Mansion is a little bit different to anything else out there, they’ve taken some risks with the menu however the food is excellent, the cocktail menu is delicious and the staff are fantastic: friendly and knowledgeable without being overbearing.
Although we’ve devoured pretty much the entire menu we’d still go back. It’s the kind of place that can work at any time of day (there’s a brunch taco menu too) and for any size of group. Although it is a bit of a trek if you aren’t a local, Victory Mansion is well worth seeking out at just about any time of day.