james debate
james debate

Thursday 25 June 2009

Head Chef Jacob Kenedy
Style Rustic Italian
Address 12 Archer Street, London W1
Open Mon-Sat, lunch 12.30-3pm, pre-theatre 5.30-7pm, dinner 5.30-midnight
Telephone 020-7734 2223

As you all know, I am a man who likes to go out and sample the many culinary offerings that London has available. Well I recently had the pleasure of trying out the relatively new Bocca di Lupo down in Soho. Did it have what it takes to impress my notoriously particular taste buds? Read on to find out.

bocca di lupo restaurant london

I had a good feeling about this place from the moment I walked in there, not least of which because of the buzz I had been hearing about this place in the days preceding this birthday dinner (not mine, don't worry you didn't miss it). Warm atmosphere and friendly service are usually a sign that you have just walked into a quality restaurant, and in this case it did not disappoint.

Good bread is also a very positive sign, and the bread basket they brought us shows exactly how bread should be, achieving the perfect consistency; not too dry or brittle.

This is not on of your pretentious peddlers of haute cuisine, despite some of the ill advisedly poetic ramblings you may find on the website. What you get here is good authentic local dishes from various places around Italy, and they've done it well, as someone who heads down to Italy every summer I should know. This is one of those charming restaurants which almost lets you feel as if you are actually in Italy.

The menu is well chosen, and difficult to pick a single dish from. Featuring simple classics such as the buffalo mozzarella with rocket and oil, the fritto misto, and numerous delectable sounding pasta dishes such as spaghettini with lobster, mussels and ginger, and saffron risotto. However the real star of the starters was the sheep's milk ricotta gnudi with lamb ragu, basically a very thinly wrapped ravioli filled with sheep's milk ricotta, and absolutely scrumptious.

For your main course one can choose from various regional delights such as the grilled porcini, the sword fish and numerous roasts. However I chose to share an order of the tagliata of roast beef with parmesan. The portions were very generous (read: huge) and soon enough I found myself sitting in front of a lovely pile of sliced roast beef with shaved parmesan on top. Here is where I must make my first real criticism, personally for me the beef was undercooked in places, even after I asked to have it cooked a little further, though in fairness I know from experience that this is often how it is prepared locally. It was still delicious, tender and juicy and the added dryness of the parmesan was delightful.

The dessert menu is also attractive, featuring gelato, brioche and burnt almond granita. However no review of an Italian restaurant would be complete without mentioning the wine list. It is excellent, as one would expect, featuring many of the finer Italian reds that you don't often see sold in this country outside of import dealers. In the end we went for the Sangiovese di Romagna 2005 riserva, a hearty and fruity red, sangiovese is always a good choice.

Ultimately this is an excellent little restaurant. It doesn't achieve the levels of genius of a place like Hakkassan or Gallopapa, but then it doesn't even try, it just tries to be good, simple, authentic Italian cuisine, and for this, sir, I applaud you. It also helps that the prices are very reasonable here. For three people, a two course meal and decent bottle of wine came to under 100 pounds.

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