And I was very pleasantly surprised. I had had a bit issue with the prices on the menu as it was a bit more expensive that it's predecessor, however the portion size and food quality does match the prices.
We had, calamari and fried belly of pork for starters, both well cooked and reasonably sized. The calamari was some of the best I've had in a UK restaurant. Light and not at all rubbery. The Pork was crisp and juicy and there was a bit of a fight over who was to have what.
The mains were seafood paella and sirloin steak respectively. The paella had a huge amount of seafood in it including a couple of delicious crab claws. And by God there was a lot of it - and that's ignoring the large side salad with it. The steak I had asked to be done medium rare and, astonishingly, it was exactly that. Given it was quite thin and wide as it had been tenderised, I was expecting blue or burnt but no, it was spot on.
The starters were about £3.60 and the mains about £10 so very reasonable given what we had.
They've refitted some of the features in the restaurant. On the positives they've replaced the horrible inner metal door with a wooden framed one. On a possible negative, it feels somewhat more like a number of South American places (and indeed Spanish places) where the place is a room and tables and chairs so you can sit and enjoy good food. It's quite bright in there so feels more like a cafe than a restaurant. However the atmosphere is authentic. So if you can either appreciate, or ignore the setting you will be sure of getting some good food!
However, the rest was a disaster. The house wine was unavailable so we were offered the Valpolicella for the same price - this was not a good choice - with a very chemical aftertaste. The Chianti was better, although freezing cold for some reason.
The starter of Mussels was also disappointing - not particularly fresh - possibly frozen? It came in a cold bowl too - so wasnt very hot when it was served. The green salad - which took ages to arrive - was accompanied by unripe avocado, and no dressing (we had to ask the waiter for oil and vinegar - the latter he couldnt find apparently!).
So, my advice is keep it simple - the pizzas are great - stick to them and you'll be hard pressed to find better in the area. Service was ok - pretty slow seeing as there were very few customers. Maybe we chose an 'off night'?
We had booked a table for a family party on the 26th September 2008. We arrived half an hour late and with two less people than booked, complete with tired baby daughter and energetic toddler nephew. We were greeted with prosecco and the manager had made sure to supply some prosecco-looking non-alcoholic drink for pregnant sister and eight year old stepson so they didn't feel left out. He had also religiously followed my mum's decoration wishes (she had actually brought lengths of taffeta the evening beforeâ€¦). We had only made the booking and decided on the food a week before.
Whilst enjoying a variety of starters it turned out that one of the uncles wasn't allowed cream, which the main course (chicken) was cooked in, so the manager arranged for a different chicken dish to be cooked. On top of that one of the aunts (the wife of the cream-averse uncle) didn't eat chicken at all and asked for a fish fillet not on the menu, so the manager popped out and bought said fillet to quickly cook what she wanted. Amazingly, everyone still ate at the same time without any noticeable delay. We rounded the meal off with some lovely tiramisu and coffee. All in all, a wonderful meal.
So, whilst we were nightmare customers (is it just this family or are they all like that?), who pre-ordered everything and then came up with lots of changes last minute, special dietary requirements, babies, toddlers, change in guest numbers, etc., they were the perfect hosts, friendly, attentive and made us feel very much at home. Oh, and the bill for 13 diners was less than £300 including a three course meal, red and white wine, prosecco, coffee and all those little extras like the fish. A wonderful addition to the area.
The staff are excellent - attentive, courteous, pleasant and not intrusive.
The food is excellent - I had a pizza, which was really hot and fresh straight from the oven.
There were 5 of us and a nibbles starter was provided free of charge! - a nice touch and the way to ensure return custom.
Red wine comes in at a very reasonable £7.50 a bottle - and was really tasty. Ice cold Italian beer is £3 a bottle.
All in all a thumbs up from the hard to please SE1 lunch club for this gem of a place. We will be back.
Starters varied from £2.30 for pizza garlic bread to a slightly expensive but amply proportioned (and very delicious - from someone who's not a fan) £5.90 Parma ham and Melon.
Pizzas for between £5.50 and £7.70 were prepared in front of us and were crisp, light and fresh tasting.
There were also a selection of pasta dishes £5.60 to £6.80 and some meat and fish dishes from £8.90 to £11.90 which we didn't sample but the next table were enjoying - so we were cheeky and asked and they thought they were lovely.
The staff were positive and chatty, the dÃ©cor was simple and quite tasteful.
Unfortunately the heating wasn't working but they had back up heaters and an engineer on call out and the Chip and Pin card reader was on the fritz but is being looked at. Finally and only because it caught my attention, the chairs which are light and make a bit of a clatter over the solid floor. Hopefully when full the sound'll be dampened out otherwise they might need to do something.
Frankly I think I'm going to be very happy its there.
Oh yes, the loos are nice too.
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