Why is it impossible to find those cheap mom-and-pop type places, like you might stumble across in an Italian backstreet, where the décor is plain but everything comes from the heart? Well – thanks to a reader – we have. There is a downside, naturally. You have to go to Brockley for it.
That bit of outer-Lewisham is known to outsiders – if at all – only as the home of an outstanding modern Indian restaurant, and Babur remains the only place to attract the eye in a dismal street. The exterior of Le Querce itself is a parody of dullness. Don’t give up, though. You can’t, it seems, always judge by appearances. And this place turns out to be the antidote to everything that’s wrong with a modern dining-out scene, obsessed with design, glitz and celebrity.
Chef Antonello Serra boasts experience of cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants in both Sardinia and Bayswater. But the food here comes without flourish. In fact, tables are bare, and you could just go for pizza. That would be a wasted opportunity, though, as what makes a visit here so special is that you can (at very modest cost) have a wonderful, simple ‘proper’ Italian meal, with everything home-made that should be. Ravioli and spaghetti, for example, are both very good, and puddings (£3.95!) are absolutely exceptional – well up there with top places in the West End. Main courses can be less exciting, but that’s pretty authentic too. The wine list isn’t flashy, but it’s carefully chosen and reasonably priced.
Admittedly, the style of this place is so unassuming that you’d have to be a manic Italophile to cross town for it. If you live anywhere in the under-provided outer-SE postcodes, though, you’d be mad not to give it a whirl.