Opened in 1997, Assaggi was in its early years a modish spot; although the fashionistas have moved on since, the first-floor dining room remains busy, with many customers greeted like long-lost relatives. The interior is low-key, with a breezy colour scheme in peach and blue; the sash windows allow much natural light into the room. As the menu is written entirely in Italian, it is a pleasing tradition to listen to the passionate recital of dishes from the maitre d’. The style is relaxed and informal, but there’s nothing frivolous about the cooking. A dressing of squid ink brought to life an otherwise spartan chargrilled cuttlefish and artichoke salad. Soft gnocchi served with an intensely flavoured venison and tomato ragu made us sigh with pleasure. Tender veal cutlet with deep-fried potato strings and a rosemary-infused jus hit all the right spots too. We ended with fabulous cheeses, and a classic Assaggi dessert: fluffy baverese (vanilla cream) doused with espresso coffee. The wine list offers a brief tour of Italy and includes gems such as the native Sardinian grape monica di sardegna. Assaggi has never been a cheap restaurant, but we still think it’s a compelling destination.