words: claire gamble
Claire won our poorly executed twitter competition recently, and in return we gave her a meal for two at Italian food bar Assaggetti. Here’s what she made of it all …
Assaggetti is located off London’s theatre-land district, which me made me a little skeptical at first. But the airy Italian bar and restaurant served up some small plates and dishes to remember…
We were seated on the mezzanine, and at 7:30 the place felt quite empty. I got it in my head that Assaggetti caters for a pre-theatre crowd, which depends more on location than quality of food, and wouldn’t rely on repeat business. Just to prove me wrong, there was no time limit on the Chef’s Selection – a set menu of three courses at a very reasonable £11.25 – so the boy and I chose from 8 savoury and 4 sweet options, and sat back to enjoy a bottle of Prosecco and some people watching while we waited for our starters.
The heap of light, perfectly cooked calamari was definitely not a disappointment and although my Tuscan pate was an alarming shade of khaki its flavour told quite a different story with a satisfying earthy rosemary flavour that didn’t overpower.
[Orlando Bloom walked past, and is a lot shorter than you think. He's got to be worth a good 10 points in the people watching game.]
We assumed the middle column on the menu was mains – Vegetarian Lasagna and Pizzetina are mains right? But my Black Risotto with Cuttlefish seemed starter size which I was a bit sad about. It didn’t matter too much though as I was still working on the Prosecco and gazing out of the window hoping for the rest of the Pirates of the Caribbean cast to saunter past.
It would have been interesting to see the chef play around with texture as it was a little basic but the hum of the cuttlefish came through. I would be curious to see what else the chef can do with seafood.
The boy’s Duck Ragu came with a fresh, handmade spaghettoni which he said was delicious, though we both found the meat confusing. Whether there was beef stock in the sauce or an emergency ingredient replacement, it was difficult to discern a duckiness. D’oh.
[Johnny Depp never showed, but...] I perked up at the thought of “Gelato Ubriaco”, or as it turned out - “drunken ice cream”.
Sadly, there was a good twenty minute wait but – as is the case with desserts(!) – the combination of bittersweet chocolate gelato and hazelnut liqueur was one worth waiting for, and the Tiramisu was light and traditional.
I think next time I would take more of a tapas-like approach to the Chef’s Selection which would stack up a bill of approx £50-60 for two including a couple of drinks each. It’s a reasonable price for consistently good food. The dishes themselves aren’t the most obvious choices for sharing, but antipasti and side dishes offer more in the way of finger food.
I would recommend Assaggetti for lunch or a light evening meal if you’re looking for something a bit different to the familiar Italian chains. It has enough choice for traditional and more experimental foodies alike plus the drinks aren’t overpriced. I’ll definitely return.