This restaurant traded for six years as an Argentinian/New Zealand restaurant (I couldn't make this up) before being taken over in 2014 by Andy Needham, formerly head chef of Zafferano when it had a Michelin star. He has sensibly switched over to the Italian cooking that he knows well, with starters priced from £6 to £8, pasta dishes £9 to £11, main courses £15 to £17 and desserts £5 to £7. The wine list was modest and omitted vintages, but had one real bargain in the form of Ata Rangi Pinot Noir at just £50 for a wine that costs £40 in a shop. The list ranged from £13.50 to £50, with around 30 labels in all, with a median price of £24. Tinpot Hut Sauvignon Blanc was £28 compared to a high street price of £12, and Bonnarda Tilia from Mendoza was just £15.50 for a wine that retails at around £8.
To begin with, a plate of nibbles included Italian ham, bruschetta with wild mushrooms and tomatoes, and particularly delicate strega flatbread, lightly scented with rosemary (easily 14/20). Prawn malfatti (£11) with oregano and tomatoes had excellent texture, tender prawns and tomatoes with quite good flavour (15/20). New potato and rosemary ravioli with girolles (£10) again had good pasta, the Scottish girolles of high quality, the rosemary nicely lifting the flavour of the dish (15/20).
For the main course, sea bass with fennel, rocket and cherry tomato was carefully cooked, the cherry tomatoes having excellent flavour (14/20). Corn fed chicken with summer vegetables and herbs had good vegetables, though the chicken had rather limited flavour, carefully cooked though it was (14/20).
Tiramisu had reasonably good coffee flavour (14/20). Cherry and almond tart with Mascarpone was less impressive, the pastry reasonable but the cherries not having as much flavour as they might (13/20). The bill, even with a considerable amount of good wine to drink, came to £86 a head, but if you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill all in would be about £55 a head. This seems to me very fair indeed, given that you have the former head chef of a Michelin starred restaurant cooking, using most of the same suppliers as when that restaurant had a star. I will certainly be back here.
Further reviews: 07th Jan 2017