Harden's survey result
It’s “always a delight” to visit this sleekly modern Italian duo in Chelsea and the City, which provide an “airy, relaxing escape from the fumes”. “Food and service are of a high quality”, and “there’s been a definite improvement over the last few years”. They’re “undoubtedly a bit pricey”, but “nothing is cheap in these areas”. The group has added a third venue, Canto Corvino, in Spitalfields (see also).
“If there were such a term as Rustic Italian Fine Dining”, it could be used to describe the style of these “delightful” modern Italians, located in Chelsea (“a lovely oasis just off the King’s Road with outside seating”); and the City (“good for impressing business visitors”). Both locations provide “a seasonal menu with quality ingredients” that’s “beautifully presented” but cost is an issue – the food seems “generally pricey for what it is”.
Although their prime locations – next to the Saatchi Gallery off Sloane Square in Chelsea and in the City – mean they are “not cheap”, these “good-natured” Italians provide a “solid” level of cooking and a “fun” atmosphere. Top Tip – lovely outside terrace in SW3.
The Chelsea branch of this Italian duo is “such a nice spot to sit out on a sunny day”, and EC2 provides “a peaceful escape from the City” – both are “pleasant”, with “unfussy” cooking.
Manicomio Restaurant Diner Reviews
"The food is unfussy and well done, albeit at City prices. The room is nice and bright - perfect for lunch. Service was prompt and efficient. Not a regular haunt due to the price versus the food ratio, but always happy to return."
"Nice menu, plenty of choice but upstairs was a little dead."
Handily located near St Paul's, a rare new-build restaurant (Norman Foster) offering surprising good Italian food on a number of levels.
We weren't frankly expecting much from this new City Italian - an offshoot of a fashionable Chelsea restaurant whose main virtue we've always thought to be its nicely-located al fresco tables.
First impressions, however, are certainly impressive. It's still a bit of a shock to see a new-build restaurant in the heart of London, and this one - just off Cheapside - is a noble affair too (Milord Foster). On three floors, it has - homage Ã Chelsea - a nice terrace, and also a view of an intriguing water feature.
Even though it's a new build, the configuration of the building is far from perfect: food arrives via dumb waiters, as seen in clapped-out '70s restaurants everywhere. If you're trying to provide City dining on three floors, though, one can appreciate that three kitchens might seem a little extravagant.
We certainly felt extravagant, for once, as we pressed on through the banking plebeians clustering around the rather nice tables outside and on the ground floor, on up to fine-dine at the very top of the building. Walk up, though? Oh no, this is an energy-guzzling building where you have to use the lift, as the staircase is, we were told, not fit for use for anything other than emergencies. Is that the architect's fault or the finishing? We've noted before how bizarrely poorly thought-out Foster's restaurants can seem to be when it comes to inter-storey travel.
Up on the top floor, the feeling is unfinished, as if in a light and bright post-industrial space. The ducting is visible. The walls are painted, but just concrete. You can argue that this seems rather odd: why have a swanky new building and not finish it? In some senses, however, it is clearly sensible. It keeps costs down, makes fewer environmental demands, and allows the food to outshine the décor.
Perhaps it was the undemanding setting, but we were actually surprised by how good the food was. In a three course meal for one, only the bread (focaccia) tended to humdrum. Everything else - crab, pollock, cheesecake - was attractively presented and rendered to a very high standard, and the coffee was good too. It's become fashionable in some critical circles to snipe at pollock - 'you can see why it's sustainable', ho ho - but our bit of fish was as good as any we've had this year.
Adopting, as ever, the brace position for the arrival of a City bill, we were pleasantly surprised when the reckoning (including a glass of wine) came to £45. For decent cooking at those sorts of prices, in the heart of the Square Mile, we think we're prepared to forego the wallpaper.
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Last orders: 10.30 pm