Editor's note: Sadly, this excellent restaurant folded in June 2014. It has been replaced by a second outlet of steak restaurant Flat Iron.
Giaconda dining rooms is a tiny place, seating just over 30 diners at one time, and with a similarly small kitchen. Chef Paul Merrony cooks pretty much every dish, as in the kitchen it is just him, a kitchen porter and sometimes a helper to do some preparation. The wine list no longer has a fixed mark-up but is still a bargain by London standards. The list has around 80 choices, ranging in price from £19 to £180, but with an average price of just £30. 80% of the list is under £40 a bottle. Mark-ups average just 2.4 times retail price. We drank Ostertag Pinot Gris 2007 at £42 for a wine that cost £23 in the shops, and Vintage Urbina “Seleccion” 1999 at £30 for a wine that retails at £13.
What follows are notes from a meal in February 2012.
My starter of spaghettini (thin spaghetti) with crab (£15) involved pasta that had excellent texture, with a mix of white and brown crab meat and precise seasoning (14/20). Chicken saltimbocca (£17) i.e. chicken wrapped in prosciutto was delicious, the chicken kept moist by its coating of ham, served on a base of risotto Milanese and garnished with button onions and sage. The risotto was made using good stock, the chicken carefully cooked and again the dish featured very accurate seasoning (14/20).
White peach vacherin was not quite to the same level as the savoury courses: white peaches are not exactly in season in February, but the meringue was properly made and the dish still worked (13/20). Other dishes I sampled were also cooked, such as carefully cooked brill and a nice crème brulee for dessert. The bill came to £55 a head, with plenty of wine. This is simple but terrific value food, such a rarity in central London.
Further reviews: 01st Sep 2008