Zafferano opened in 1995, initially with Giorgio Locatelli running the kitchen, followed by Andy Needham. It held a Michelin star from 1999 to 2012. Zafferano used to be a very regular haunt of mine and was a place that you could often stumble into celebrities. I have sat on the next table to Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall amongst others, and Bill Clinton has visited. My favourite encounter was with The Simpsons voice artist Harry Shearer, who kindly indulged me by doing a Mr Burns “excellent…” that raised a few eyebrows at nearby tables. These days there are fewer celebrities and there has been a change in the kitchen. Andy Needham has moved on to his own restaurant in Stamford Brook called l’Amorosa, and his former sous chef Daniele Camera has been in charge of the kitchen here for about a year.
Zafferano has always had a few tables outside for coffee, but now this has been transformed into a dining section complete with an awning for inclement weather. The staff wear masks and indoors the tables are more generously spaced in these pandemic times. Chitarra spaghetti, an egg pasta from Abrzuzzo, was topped with broad beans and Pecorino sheep’s milk cheese. The beans were tender and very seasonal, and the pasta had good texture (14/20). Saffron risotto was particularly good today, the little red strands of saffron visible in the glistening, golden rice. The texture of the rice was silky, having nicely absorbed the chicken stock (16/20).
Pappardelle pasta with lamb ragu was also enjoyable, the pasta texture being spot on. For me, perhaps the ragu could have had a deeper flavour, but this was still very enjoyable (14/20). Halibut with peas and lemon mayonnaise had carefully cooked halibut and a smooth pea puree. In principle the acidity of the lemon would add freshness to the dish, but in this case there was not enough lemon to really make an impact (14/20).
Service was excellent. The bill came to £72 per head for two courses. If you had three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a more typical cost might have been around £90 or so per person. This was a very enjoyable meal, with an appealing menu that was well executed.