Harden's survey result
“Italian peasant-food fit for a king” – Jacob Kenedy’s “exceptional and distinctive” fixture, a short stroll from Piccadilly Circus, has carved a massive foodie following with its “wonderfully eclectic and ever-changing range of traditional dishes from across the country” (categorised by region, and available in ‘small’ or ‘large sizes’), with the “exciting” results “so simple and delicious you cannot believe it”. “And they’re complemented by a staggering wine list” which “is itself a trip through Italy” (“it’s worth having a detailed conversation with the wine waiter to discover outstanding vintages at sensible prices” with “lots of interesting options by the glass”). “Unsurprisingly, the place is always jammed”, and the “busy, café-style” interior with “closely packed tables” is such that “while mostly delightful, it’s bloody noisy” (“if not slightly manic”). But the “efficient and friendly staff” help keep the mood upbeat. Some guests “prefer the counter” – “there’s great kitchen theatre perched on the bar stools”.
“Paradise for Italian food lovers” – Jacob Kenedy’s “easygoing” yet “well-run” and immensely popular operation, a short walk from Piccadilly CIrcus, is one of the most culinarily interesting destinations in town (especially of the “reasonably priced” variety). “It’s not just your standard Italian trat fayre, yet neither is it merely über-trendy small plates”. Instead, an “unrivalled selection of vigorous and distinctive dishes are labelled by region and available in two sizes” (tapas-style or ‘main’). “Dishes are from all over Italy, change regularly” and “are often unusual (for example fried calf’s foot)”. There’s also “a terrific Italian wine list (available by the carafe), with knowledgeable advice available at all price levels”. “Go early if possible, as it can get too buzzy” and “vibrant” and “is quite packed-in” (although most reporters feel that “the food justifies any lack of comfort”). “Sit at the counter for a bird’s-eye-view of the chefs” (although these perches in particular can feel “high, cramped and noisy”). “I think I have eaten over 75 times at Bocca and the food and team there remain at the top of their game – the food is always different and amazingly authentic to its origins”. Top Menu Tip: “great puddings including the signature sanguinaccio (blood, pistachio, chocolate)”.
“Unexpected, distinctive regional dishes” and staff who are “knowledgeable” and “brilliantly friendly” continue to win a major thumbs up for Jacob Kenedy’s “energetic” Italian, near Piccadilly Circus. “Noise is a big issue here – it can be hard to hold a conversation”. And the “stimulating” setting can feel too “crowded”, both in the rear section and at the front counter (which is “hated” by a few, but for most reporters “a favourite place, where you can watch the chefs and see what other people are eating”). “There are two very wise policies – all options come in half/main portions, and many of the interesting wines are available by the glass or in 500cc pichets”.
“Discover what REAL Italian food is all about” at Jacob Kennedy and Victor Hugo’s “buzzing and exciting” venue, a short walk from Piccadilly Circus: its “inventive” tapas-style plates – an ever-changing selection “from the remotest corners of Italy” – are “unbelievably good” and backed up by a “gorgeous” wine list “full of regional gems”. Sitting it at the bar, “watching the skill and intensity of the chefs” is a favourite perch.
Bocca di Lupo Restaurant Diner Reviews
"This has been a favourite for some time, but I think I have never had a better meal or overall experience than a recent visit. The wine list is extraordinary and reasonably priced. Every dish is wonderful, and though I am not a fan of the small plates movement, the menu could hardly be more perfect. Sheer class."
"Super dependable cooking (never fails to impress) and the best pasta in London "
|Wine per bottle||£24.00|
Bocca di Lupo W1
Near Piccadilly Circus, a versatile and attractive Italian restaurant that's one of the best openings of the year to-date; its ex-Moro team serves up unusual and accomplished Italian dishes, and the wine list is notable too.
Some restaurants - like Buddha Bar, or Bob Bob Ricard - burst onto the London stage after months of warm-up PR. It's always a struggle for the reality to match the build-up. Other restaurants - like Bocca di Lupo - sort of creep out when you're not looking. Unanticipated, their arrival seems all the more interesting.
Interesting, the location of this Soho newcomer is not. Despite being only a stone's throw from Piccadilly Circus, it's in a street so boring it looks like an alleyway that's grown too big for its boots. In such an unpromising setting, its smart exterior seems all the more chic.
The interior is also promising. A long, Carrara marble bar flanks the room providing separation from a shiny and bustling open kitchen. At the back, there's a more formal dining section, dominated by a huge, vaguely retro, circular light fitting. It's where we sat, but it's probably the part of the room which 'works' least well.
At lunch, they do an appealing short menu of 'one-dish meals' for £7-£11. Grandly, though, we went for the Ã la carte, which features dishes from across Italy labelled by region. Sampling is made easy by the fact that all plates come in a choice of small and large sizes. There is also a long, well-priced and intelligently constructed wine list.
Whoosh! The fireworks started to go off when our initial, quite brilliant dishes arrived. The first was a bone marrow, barolo and radiccio risotto. Boy was it good: meaty yet light; rich but fresh-tasting. The second was a pork and foie gras saugage with a buckwheat accompaniment. The sausage had a magnificently rustic, farmyardy quality, quite out of place in a trendy Soho gaff.
Best of the rest was the Fritto Romano, combining deftly fried artichoke and excellent veal sweetbreads. Least good, oddly, was the pasta - tortelli of ricota with burnt (by design!) walnut pesto - where the individual components of the dish resolutely refused to add anything to one another.
How could you refuse a pudding of pig's blood and chocolate paté? It may sound vile, but the reality was just an offbeat chocolate pot that was - all things considered - hard to separate from every other gooey chocolatey pudding you've ever had before. It was, though, served with more of their bread, which we've neglected to mention is terrific. Coffee to follow was a bit dull, but enlivened by little chocolate beans from a famous Roman café.
The team in the Kitchen - Jacob Kenedy and David Cook - were until recently at that perennial favourite, Moro. Their pedigree really shines through in this new venture which is one of the more significant debuts of the year-to-date.
12 Archer St, London, W1D 7BB
|Number of Diners:|
|Monday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5 pm‑11 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5 pm‑11 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5 pm‑11 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5 pm‑11 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5 pm‑11 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5 pm‑11 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm‑3:30 pm, 5 pm‑9:30 pm|