27th January 2015 – 6.00pm
This restaurant is hidden away in the Quartermile development with a few other restaurants, which must make it difficult for passing trade on a winter’s evening. We arrived a little before our booked time of 6pm, which is when the restaurant opens. However, we were welcomed into the bar area and we sat ourselves down for a couple of cocktails whilst we waited for the upstairs restaurant section to be ready. We were made to feel that arriving early was not an issue and was even part of the plan. The gentleman who served us had a pleasant demeanour and was chatty without being too intrusive.
I had a bloody mary topped with mozzarella and prosciutto, which arrived in what appeared to be a fish bowl, whilst my friend had a more standard sized mojito. Whilst we were sipping our cocktails, we perused the bar menu. The bar offered a selection of fancy bar snacks as well as pizzas. This seemed a good way to get customers to have a bite to eat as they drink without having to move to a more formal setting. Looking at our surroundings, it was full of dark wood but modern and quite chic.
We were informed that the table upstairs was ready for us whenever we were ready. We decided to go straight up and take our drinks up and the waiter kindly brought them up for us. The upstairs dining area continued the stylish, contemporary theme with suede walls and crisp lines. One side of the restaurant was floor-to-ceiling windows, which gave a nice view, albeit mainly of the square below. I imagine in the warmer months this would be a great view for people watching. Surprisingly, the soundtrack to the evening was a string of 80’s classic hits. Not the first choice I thought this restaurant would have gone for but I actually loved it and couldn’t help but sing along frequently (quietly of course). We were the first ones in the restaurant that evening, although a few other diners came up later. However, we were not made to feel self-conscious and were not pestered by the waiters.
After perusing the menu, we decided that we could pretty much eat everything on it. I settled on arancini to start followed by tortiglioni chorizo e bufala gratin. My dining partner opted for the crochette di merluzzo saltalo followed by carnaroli risotto al nero for her main. It wasn’t long until the starters arrived and I have to admit, the arancini were a little larger than I anticipated (similar to Madonna’s iconic pointed cone bra – see the photo below for evidence).
That said, they were delicious and filled with incredibly gooey cheese. There was a nice tomato sauce which accompanied it. However, I really struggled to get through them and was a little worried about how I was going to attempt my main. Half the amount would have been sufficient for a starter. On the other side of the table, my friend seemed a little disappointed with her salted cod. They were on the same style glass plate that my arancini had arrived on and it did nothing to enhance the presentation of the dish. She said they tasted fine though and the pesto sauce that accompanied them was tasty.
The pasta main had a lovely flavour to it. The dish also wasn’t overflowing with pasta, so I was somewhat relieved after the filling drink and starter. Also, the pasta-to-sauce ratio was excellent.
There was a nice scattering of mozzarella across the pasta and the chorizo was crumbled through the sauce, which was a refreshing change from having it sliced. The only complaint I had was that the chilli oil did become a little overpowering after a while. The squid risotto certainly had a visual impact on arrival. However, there wasn’t a great deal of squid actually in the dish, which meant the dish felt out of proportion. Again, my dining partner felt a little disappointed.
I couldn’t manage a dessert. I hadn’t been able to completely finish the main. However, my friend opted for a limoncello cheesecake. When it arrived, it was adorned with chocolate shards and sour cherries.
As she tucked in, she was a bit flummoxed as to where the limoncello actually was but a little further in she got a hit of it. The flavour didn’t seem to be consistent throughout. She seemed to prefer the cherries to the cheesecake.
This restaurant is nice but it is not quite there yet. It’s only been going six months and I think has still to fully find its feet. The enthusiasm and manner of the staff was a credit to this establishment and it does deserve to do well. Maybe next time I might just head to the bar and eat there and see if the experience is any different.
Food – 6/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10 (mainly for the 80’s music)
Value – 7/10 (the cost is quite reasonable but the standard of the food needs to be higher to be better value)
Overall – 30/40
Cost – £37 for two, including two cocktails and a glass of wine. This did include a 50% discount on the food due to a January dining offer, so the true cost would be nearer to £50.