Antico was introduced to me by a foodie friend and is definitely one of my favorite London restaurants. The food is always excellent, and the restaurant itself is intimate and comfortable. It oozes coziness when you walk past with it’s low lighting and the buzz of conversation which emanates from within. The staff are always very helpful and you feel well looked after. There is a 2 hour turn around on evening tables, and this place is very busy so unless you eat late, don’t expect to be able to lounge around all evening. We were booked early at 6.15 and they turfed us out at 8.45 after giving us 30 mins extra time. However this isn’t too much of a hardship as there is a wonderful gin bar just downstairs with the speakeasy feel which is so popular these days.
The menu is small, which is great for those who don’t want to be overwhelmed with choice. The pasta is freshly made and something of a feature of the restaurant. On this particular visit one of my friends was very pleased to finally see something from his home on the menu, Seafood Fregola from Sardinia.
I started with one of the specials, Duck Liver with Lentils, which was delicious. The liver melting in your mouth, drizzled in a rich, slightly creamy sauce and served on a brioche toast with brown lentils. Perfectly seasoned and just enough of it so that it wasn’t too heavy.
My friend had the Beef Fillet Carpaccio, Shaved Celeriac and Aged Balsamic. This was light with just enough tangy balsamic to bring out the sweetness of the meat. It was presented really well and was the most eye catching of the plates we had.
For main we both had the Seafood Fregola (see main picture), we couldn’t very well not have it just to see if it was as good as the home made version. This is one of those dishes which takes a long time to cook, a lot of love and some exquisite ingredients. I guess it would be fair to say that it’s also quite difficult to do on a mass scale without breaking it down in to component parts and perhaps simplifying some of the processes. The presentation was a little disappointing, while the smell was fantastic, we would have liked some more of the seafood which had gone in to it to be used for presentation and placed on top. It was very tasty, but somehow lacking the depth of shellfish flavour we were hoping for, perhaps this was due to simplification, the rich sauce was clearly fish based but had more tomato in it than it should and the whole dish had the consistency of risotto, rather than slightly looser with a little more broth that fregola should have. That said, it was very tasty and devoured happily without any complaints.
Dessert was cheese for me, of course with my serious cheese habit, and gelato just to be balanced. The cheese selection was all cow’s cheese which is great if, like me, you don’t like goats cheese. It comes with wafer thin, little pieces of Italian bread and a glorious pineapple chutney which is very sweet but marries beautifully with the strong cheese and salty blue on the plate.
This is definitely a restaurant to go and seek out and it’s worth the trek if you don’t live in the vicinity. The daily specials are well worth trying as they are usually excellent, as evidenced by my duck livers and previous visits. If you only try one new restaurant this Autumn, make it this one and you will find yourself looking for an excuse to go back.