Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Thu Dec 3 2009
There’s nothing ‘modern Italian’ about Lingotto; this is an old-school Italian, from people who previously ran a restaurant in Guildford.
They’ve chosen a site in a side street with little passing traffic (foot or otherwise), and redecorated it in a bland, inoffensive way that remains a blank canvas.
In such circumstances, the food and ambience has to really stand out.
We couldn’t fault the service: welcoming, chirpy, attentive. A basket of perfectly crisp carta di musica, own-made grissini and other breads got us off to a good start.
Our waiter proudly showed off a large truffle – the size of a toddler’s fist – which was going to be incorporated into the day’s specials. Even at £19.50 for a risotto, this was too good an offer to resist.
It duly arrived, looking – as risotto often does – like a bowl of Ready Brek, but with huge slivers of the fungus grated before our eyes on to the rice. We awaited the assault on our olfactory bulb from the feral, bosky aroma of truffles – yet none was forthcoming. Why?
According to scientist Len Fisher, only around 60 per cent of us can smell the aroma which makes truffles so distinctive – the other 40 per cent are wasting their money. I checked at home with a bottle of truffle oil – yes, I can still smell its musky notes clearly.
Inferior Chinese truffles are often passed off as the better quality types of European truffles, and frequently find their way into food supply chains, even the most reputable ones, and into the most reputable restaurants.
I’ll never know if this is what happened here, but I can vouch for that particular tuber being as aromatic as a dry wine cork.
Our other dishes – pasta with prawns and rocket, and deep-fried squid with courgette – were perfectly satisfactory, but the place lacked the vital spark that made us want to return.
Lingotto 45 Red Lion Street
- Venue phone:
020 7405 6830
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Open Noon-2.30pm, 6-10.30pm Mon-Fri; 6-10.30pm Sat
Tube: Holborn tube
Meal for two with wine and service: around £70
- 45 Red Lion Street
- 020 7405 6830
- 45 Red Lion Street