The elegant former Pimlico premises of L’Incontro, smartened up and relaunched as an Italian restaurant rather like the one which went before – not bad, but expensive for what it is.
The premises of L’Incontro – the former Italian restaurant on this Pimlico site – are something of an ’80s period piece. And in a good way too. Spruced up by the new regime, this is undoubtedly one of the most impressive small restaurant interiors in London. (We’d like to show you a photo of it, but numerous requests to the management have met with no response.) Table appointments, with some fine Italian linen, are also very elegant.
Expectations thus raised, it’s odd to find a lunch menu du jour which reads as if it was written by Manuel on Basil’s day off. ‘Beff’? ‘Mush’ potatoes? If you’re the sort of place charging £60 a head (at Ã la carte prices) these sort of signals matter. (Not a native English speaker? Get someone who is to check the menus. Or use a dictionary. Or Google.)
Once we had deciphered the spelling, the content of the set menu hardly set the pulse racing. Not that it was bad, just that it was entirely generic. You don’t expect to see the most exciting and exotic dishes on a set menu, but surely their point is to give some hint of what, on a good day, the kitchen can do?
As it happens, we were two, and so in a position to sample from both sides of the menu-class divide. It didn’t make much difference: the food was competent throughout but, except arguably at pudding, never did anything – by way of taste or intrinsic interest – to justify the establishment’s premium pricing.
Service was rather likewise: while in no sense bad, it didn’t really engage. Give us Central Castings Italian jollity, any day.