We are recommended an excellent bottle of Sangiovese Vigna 2010 (£22.75), an Italian red wine full bodied enough to linger on your palate but light enough to enjoy alone and with the fish choice that I was opting for as my main course. S chooses the Bruschetta with Goats Cheese (£6.95), while I’m informed that the Soup of the Day is Minestrone (£5.95), a perfect Italian classic for the cold winter’s day. My soup is absolute perfection, steaming hot, and accompanied by two delightfully big crisp croutons delicately flavoured with hints of cheese that balance out the lightness of the vegetables in the soup. I watch S cut his bruschetta, the goats cheese oozing onto the plate, tempting me as each melted strand clings to the plate, but knowing I have two more courses to go, I am content at sipping my beautiful wine, which is expertly topped up with attentive service so that the glass is never half full.
Our mains arrive very quickly after this so that we’re not left hanging and as S embarks on his examination of the medium rare steak with a dainty pot of mushroom sauce on the side (£19.95), he informs me that it’s cooked exactly to his liking. As a connoisseur of well-prepared meat, that is a most welcome compliment from him. My pan-fried fillet of sea bass comes (£15.95) with a slice of lemon and sprinkling of black pepper, clean, fresh and light. Although the side of hand cooked chips must also have been simultaneously crisp and soft; we both opt for steamed spinach (£3.95) as our side dishes, which arrive as a big healthy green portion of nature on, separate plates, reeking of class.
Happily content, we are faced with the dessert menu. S immediately spots the uniqueness that leaps out from the paper: Chocolate Brick (£5.95). Bravely he takes the plunge while I am faced with a towering scoop of Mango and Lemon sorbet (£5.95). Sticky and soft spoonfuls of icy wonder that wake up my tastebuds on a paradoxical journey of sweet and sour. “What is the brick?” I ask S tentatively, it looks like a brick of chocolate sprinkled with white polka dots. S informs me that it’s softer than a brick of chocolate but harder than a brownie, another ambiguous discovery that oozes chocolate biscuit, cake and brownie.
Our eyes light up as the charming waiter brings over a shot of Limoncello, the perfect tang of refreshing alcohol to dim the sweetness while leaving us wanting more. Yes we want more of this hidden gem of a restaurant behind the usual overcrowded main street haunts. I dare you – search it out; I assure you – you’ll definitely want more.
Dinner for two with wine, excluding service £94.85
12.5% optional service charge
25-27 Elystan Street