Just off Trafalgar Square, a rare example, for London, of an establishment focussing on a single product – mozzarella; we don’t think that’s a route to success in this city, and – judging the place simply as a ‘vineria’ or ‘caffetteria’ as which it also advertises itself – we found its other attractions rather difficult to discern.
ometimes, you just have to confront the fact that the Brits are – still, critics might say – not that interested in food. You rarely in this country find any of the cheese-squeezing you’ll see as a French consumer ponder a purchase, for example. And even in the foodiest of restaurants, you’ll rarely see a whole menu devoted to a particular ingredient, however seasonal. In Paris, for example, we can recall seeing a menu of which each and every course was, in some way or other, an hommage aux asperges. Now we like asparagus as much as the next man, but, well, really…
Such product-fixation is, we fear, a potentially fatal flaw of this new outfit near Trafalgar Square, which touts itself as a “Mozzarella Bar ®”. It may already boast outlets in Rome, Milan and New York (and also, er, Selfridges), but each of those cities have a culture which celebrates ingredients in a way we generally don’t here. (Did you know mozzarella comes in three grades? Thought not.)
So, if you leave the mozzarella-fixation out of account, what’s left here? Well, in this central-but-off-the-beaten-track location, you have something which feels rather like an elegant but underpowered, and rather pricey, hotel coffee shop (albeit one with a speciality in light Italian dishes). And curiously, it turns out that this is what this place – which comes complete with an hotel attached – arguably is.
In its own terms, it’s not – on the basis of our visit – a bad place. It’s elegant and lofty, for example, the food is of a good basic quality, and the staff are trying hard.
It‘s no particular bargain though, and the key question remains: what’s it for? Our office is just five minutes away, and, for the life of us, we can’t imagine that we’d ever want to go there ever again.