Thursday 10 November 2011

Spuntino - Another Success for Russell Norman

Spuntino has to be one of the most talked about restaurants in London this year.  With the success of Polpo and Polpetto (the sister restaurants) already in the bag and with so many glowing reviews, it would have been easy for them to have sat on their laurels - so I thought I would go and check.

The tag line for Spuntinos is "no telephone, no reservations", but it may well have included "no sign".  This is a place for people who read about food.  Situated at 61 Rupert Street is what looks like a disused shop, with only the faintest scrawl above the windows to let you know that you're at the right place.  Stepping through the door, however, everything changes.  You are met by a bar with high seats and low lights, candles flickering - effortlessly cool - this is the definitive answer to "stripped down" decor.

Sat at the end of the bar we ordered a couple of small, but perfectly formed, Bloody Marys and were given a cup of freshly popped popcorn served with paprika and a lug of tasty oil to work through while we pondered the menu.

There menu is made up of various salads, a good selection of sliders (mini-burgers), some interesting small plates (fried olives?) and some tasty looking mains.

We settled on marinated artichoke and coppa crostini, a beef and bone marrow slider, spicy sausage with cheese grits, soft shell crab with tabasco aioli and aubergine fritters with fennel seed yoghurt. 

The marinated artichoke and coppa crostini -  looks a total mess but was absolutely delicious!  Juicy artichoke, tasty coppa (a tasty cured ham made from the neck of the pig) and toasted bread- my kind of food and an absolute steal at £4.50.

The beef and bone marrow slider - I had read a lot about this and, in truth, was a little disappointed.  Tasty meat, but a little dry.

Spicy sausage and cheese grits (a corn dish of American Indian origin) - delicious spicy tomato sauce, with cheese grits -  I had never had grits before but they were pretty good, reminded me of a cheesy semolina. May not sound too good, but it worked.  Little tight on the sausage though, with only three thin slices.

Soft shell crab with tabasco aioli -  I read recently that soft shell crab was a chef's dream -  incredibly cheap but considered a delicacy!  Overpriced or not (and I don' think it was) this was one tasty tasty dish.

The eggplant fritters with fennel seed yoghurt -  we had got these to add as a filler - as we had heard that the plates were generally quite small - but it stole the show.  Soft aubergine in a crisp sesame seed crust and delicious fennel seed yoghurt -  absolutely incredible.

I had not wanted to like Spuntino.  It sometimes nice to go against the crowd.  But try as I might not to, I really like this place.  Effortlessly cool decor, friendly staff and great tasting food -  another success from Russel Norman.  If it's half as good as Spuntino's I can't wait to visit his next venture, Mishkins, a jewish style deli serving old school cocktails (opens late November 2011).

Spuntino on Urbanspoon

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