Refettorio - Italian
19 New Bridge Street
Tel: 020 7438 8052
Conveniently located within the Crown Plaza, just near Blackfriars and close to the Thames, Reffetorio is a great venue for informal meetings.
On arrival we opted for pre-dinner drinks in the Crown Plaza Bar, where we were looked after as our crew assembled – work colleagues and Clare Wardle of Tube Lines Ltd. The remainder of the bar had plenty of room for large groups but also sufficient seclusion for twos and threes.
Moving up to Reffetorio we were welcomed by Ivan, the Maître de who took care of us well, handing us into the capable hands of the young and cheerful Christian.
Christian was extremely helpful, making useful suggestions and using expressive hand gestures! We were encouraged to order the 2008 Gavi di Gavi from Piemonte – a personal favourite of mine in any event and well suited to the Italian cuisine in which Reffetorio specialises.
Directed by Georgio Locatelli, the restaurant provides an interesting but classic Italian menu, well presented with an artistic but not over elaborate tone. Whilst the critics refer without exception to the charcuterie and cheese, we felt that we should try other selections from the menu. It was white truffle season but the speciality menu was something of a challenge in its quantity so we opted for a more modest meal.
The bread selection was good, fresh and particularly tasty when dipped in a surprisingly yellow olive oil which turned out to be tasty with grassy overtones.
We were amused by the menu referring to a baby jam salad (sic gem). We had thought this was something of a deviation from the usual cuisine. Clare’s octopus - Carpaccio di polipo with white potatoes, black olives and parsley was a layered confection of octopus crowned by the other components with an aromatic sauce. We felt that the carpaccio could perhaps have been a little thinner with more translucence but the flavour was good.
I opted for the scallops recommended by Christian – Capesante con purè di cavolfiore, carote julienne e salsa ai capperi. This was delicious. Presentation was most impressive with a flurry of julienned carrots surmounting it.
On then for Clare to monkfish – Coda Di Rospo con cozze, baby lattuga e petali di pomodoro. This was where the jam salad came in and it turned out to be warm salad of baby gem lettuce. The mussels were excellent although the monkfish was felt to be a little chewy – the tomato sauce good. Again, the dish was beautifully presented. Once more, on the recommendation of Christian, I had the Risotto con Radicchio e Barolo. In appearance, surprisingly reminiscent of school rice pudding once the jam had been mixed in, contrary to school rules – the risotto itself was subtle and extremely tasty.
The décor of the restaurant has a prevalence of muted tones and particularly dark wood, giving it a somewhat subdued atmosphere. As it was a Monday night it was less busy than one might find on other evenings when the atmosphere would, we imagine, be rather livelier. However, the cheerfulness of the staff and the generally excellent quality of the food would encourage another visit.
Isabel Davies, CMS Cameron McKenna LLP
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