On a busy Wednesday evening I scoffed at the size of the queue at Barrafina and head to Bocca di Lupo instead, finally making it a tardy 2 and a half years after the launch.
I've read great reports from fellow bloggers about meals here but my dear friends John and Sue were not so keen so I was keeping an open mind. We had to wait a mere 10 minutes and were seated at the bar. My companion thought the stool to bar ratio was off and felt pretty uncomfortable for the rest of the evening. I'm fairly short so wasn't bothered.
First up came an excellent selection of bread, served with olive oil to dunk and a bowl of those amazing vibrant green olives.
The concept is sharing plates, you're advised to order multiple dishes to split. We started with some courgette flowers with honey, mozzarella and anchovies. I loved these, the cheesy filling and the crunchy coating contrasting nicely.
Served next was the tomato and basil bruschetta which I found to be dull and lacking seasoning. Luckily it arrived with my favourite dish of the night, the orecchiette with 'nduja "extremely spicy home-made salame," red onion, tomato & rocket. It was as spicy as promised and we both agreed this was a fine dish, just the kind of food I'd hoped to find on Jacob Kenedy's menu.
The next batch of dishes to arrive began with the clams, mussels & borlotti beans stew, freshened up with a sprinkling of basil but a great hearty bowlful. The linguini with spider crab tomato and basil was a little devoid of flavour, nice al dente pasta but disappointingly bland. Our final savoury choice was grilled langoustines which were, I think, overpriced at £16 for 6 of the creatures, they yield so little meat.
It can be said that the desserts are a particular speciality here, what with Gelupo across the road. We tried the wickedly boozy rum baba with strawberries and cream and the gelato cup zuppa inglese, or trifle, sour cherry and zabione gelati with toasted almonds, this was wonderful, and refreshing. Most memorable though was the caffe allo zabaione, coffee with sweetened beaten egg yolk, incredible. I saw one of these being prepared and we just had to have one.
The meal came to £80, a lot given that I found some dishes didn't quite hit the mark. The good was very good and service was lovely but I think I might just brave the queue in future as my heart still belongs to Barrafina.
Bocca di Lupo
12 Archer Street