All reader reviews by Alan
I heard about this place only recently (even though it's been open for a year and a half and I live around the corner!), so decided to take book a table for four (one being my extra fussy missus, the other being her even fussier mother, my brother and me) for a happy in-law reunion dinner last Wednesday.
I had never eaten there before and thought that a bit of a gamble but a worthwhile one as I could easily escape at a moment's notice should the mother drive me bonkers and be home in a jiffy.
So we arrived at at the door and were instantly greeted by a smiling waiter. Good start. We were ushered to a table near the terrace. Lovely. Crisp white tablecloths, polished silverware, spotless glasses. (Erm.. Maybe I might be the fussy one) but nonetheless, 5 star so far.
Suitably impressed I looked around- interesting decor; bright, young refreshing, cool Euro's mixing with locals, ages where totally mixed, and the music was great. At this point I was trying to pinpoint exactly what kind of group they were going for- seemed totally random.
Looked at the menu. Nice. Italian favourites- the kind of things you'd see in Scallini, San Lorenzo, Toto's, Montpeliano, etc. Yikes! All those restaurants I mentioned before are institutions! They're old school places with old farts that were extra cool back in the day reunite for the occasional glass of vino an a chat about snogging Ursula Andress in a Mini Cooper in St. Tropez and the similarities to Jenning's Minor's buttocks.
Were they trying to compete?! This spelled disaster.
I took to ordering the Baked Ricotta wrapped with Aubergines followed by a Scallopina al Vino Bianco- which to the Euro-novices out there is a veal cutlet cooked in a white wine reduction, served with mashed (or rather 'puree') potatoes and green beans. Other dishes ordered included Filet Beef Carpaccio with rocket, Parma Ham and mozzarella, and a Beetroot Salad with Goat Cheese and Aspargus, Grilled Chicken served with a mixed salad, Asparagus Risotto, and Sea Bass and a nice bottle of Verdicchio (that's white wine fyi)
As excuses were running through my head as to why I had to leave (in case the über-fussy Swiss mother in law started going at it) and eying up my most efficient route of escape (straight over the terrace, hurdle jump over the flower-pots) I waited anxiously for things to arrive.
After about 15 mins came the Antipasti and oh-my-god when I tell you they were to die for they were beyond amazing. Each one was incredible the beetroot with goat cheese was great, the baked ricotta aubergine cake, out of this world, the fillet carpaccio bright and so tender and the parma ham like butter and the king of all was probably the best mozzarella I've ever tasted. The Swiss mother in law did one of those moves like you see in the adverts- takes a bite, pauses and frowns, then the face brightens up and the mouth starts to chew with boundless enthusiasm. I'd done it!!! Dead chuffed with myself (and hearing the praise for my genius discovery come from all around) I waited with bated breath for the main course.
It was all amazing. A 3-pointer, a touchdown, a try, goal, home-run, one after the next. I'd actually managed to pull this off and wasn't going to end the night with a 'Typical, it's not enough zat I sink you're useless, you ARE useless' from the Swiss Stasi Muttur in law. She actually said "Zis is fantastik! I vill from now on come here instead of ze Scallini, ya?!" Heehee.
It was then that I finally understood the identity of the place. That's the whole point- it was a place relaxed enough for anyone and good enough for everyone. It would not surprise me if it becomes difficult to get a table soon- especially outside on the terrace. Call ahead is my tip.
So that's it- a total gamble that paid off big time. The bill wasn't that bad either- £150 for four. The only downside is that the mother has now adopted my local discovery as her own, and I will wait for the time that undoubtedly she turns up while I'm enjoying a night out with my missus and asks me why we were ignoring her calls.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8