A trip to this grand dining room – a Grade II-listed former courthouse – is probably the closest thing you’re going to get to an Italian getaway right now without having to do a 72-hour PCR test beforehand. Find the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little red door covered in foliage, ride the lift up to the fourth floor and prepare to be transported to another world.
This restaurant has the look and feel of a distressed, pastel-hued Tuscan villa, complete with faded plaster walls, beautifully restored double-storey columns, detailed arched windows and a mezzanine from which you can people-watch the diners below. It’s a truly stunning place with an air of fantasy that’ll make you question whether you are in Zone 1 or Narnia.
The venue might look OTT, but ex-Polpetto chef Florence Knight’s menu isn’t. It looks deceptively simple, with little description of what dishes might entail, but what comes out to the table is expertly done. This is locally sourced, seasonal food from independent producers and suppliers. The lone crab croquette ball is a deep-fried crunchy orb of pure zingy, salty flavour of the sea, and panisse aka chickpea flour chips from Provence dusted with lemon thyme and sea salt, are begging to be dunked. Be sure to set some aside to mop up the leftover fig leaf and sorrel sauce from the buttery, soft sea bream.
A fun guessing game comes next. Try to figure out what is squid and what are tomato calamarata (pasta loops) when presented with a clever bowl of saucy thick rings of both.
My favourite thing on the menu? Probably the fried potato with surprise eel wedged between every layer. It’s a skilful, pretty dish with that crunchy-sweet-salty balance, topped with a dollop of crème fraîche, edible flowers and roe. I would’ve liked more of that delicate eel to provide meaty cushion to the sharp potato.
Finish on a strong note with the humble chocolate tart that’s melty, gooey and looks incredibly sexy when it succumbs to fork. The lemon sorbet stuffed into a sweet melon slice is a dream dessert to savour during the last remnants of summer. Go now.
The vibe Smells like Aesop hand soap. Candlelit and romantic.
The food Light, playful dishes that shows balance, variety and skill.
The drink An extensive wine list joined by bright cocktails made from fresh fruits, flowers and leaves.
Time Out tip Order the panisse, dip them in the sea bream sorrel sauce and bask in the surroundings.