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Spuntino


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The opening of spuntino was seemingly as eagerly anticipated in the foodie twittersphere as the royal wedding in the daily mail.

Having heard a lot about, but not ever having tried, russell norman's burgeoning empire of casual diners (will not use the word eatery/ie) it may seem an oddity to jump right in at the latest rather than work my way through its bretheren, but truth be told, although fashionable, no reservation, small plate/tapas style dining isn't my usual cup of; the most exciting thing i could think of to do on monday night was wash the car, i had a word with myself recharged the oyster card and headed into soho rather than saffron walden.

As per usual i had absolutely no idea where it was, I have never gone straight to any destination in soho ever without finding the most circuitious of routes but eventually at an early time more suited to afternoon tea than dinner, i arrived.

As you no doubt know by now it's an atmospheric, antique room framed by a large central zinc bar which is, bar another table, it. Menu is the placemat and shows a mix of comfort/american diner-esque inspiration rather than the ventian of its sister restaurants.

Seating is a small stool, i must say the double sized 'kissing stool' i was next to looked far more inviting given what my tailor calls, my 'full seat'.

The friendly, no-attitude, staff promptly offered tap/still/sparkling and some papkrika flavoured popcorn whilst i worked out what to order, and thank heavens did not try to 'explain our concept'.

egg and soldiers was first choice from the snacks, a deepfried crispy spicy breacrumbed egg, still soft with toast, a well executed amusing dish.

next ground beef and bone marrow from the 'sliders' menus (no, me neither) was a small puck of most excellent burger and onions with a trickle of cheese, very good. I ordered these with a ‘side’ of egg plant chips and fennel yoghurt which arrived before, no problem though they had , like the egg a great crispy batter and aniseedy taste nicely counterbalanced by the yoghurt.

‘main’ course was the now dish of 2011 truffled egg and toast. A cheesy double toast with a yolk in the hollowed out top piece with truffle oil and fontina cheese. A good dish but honestly not revelatory, maybe I was a bit ‘riched’ out by that point, though as a standalone it would make a hangover breakfast of kings I suspect with a bloody mary.

Dessert came in the shape of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, given the soliders and the toast I thought I may have gone for bread overload as I wasn’t sure how this would come but no fear, it was two triangular pieces of nutty parfait with jam in the middle sprinkled with peanuts, a lovely deconstructed marathon bar (or snickers if you’re younger) only complaint it was very fridge cold on arrival but soon warmed up to really shine. Probably the ‘best’ dish.

Wine list is modest in choice mainly polpo wines so I took the only beer on offer meantime IPA in dinky half pint mugs, with handles !

Coffee looked to be american diner style drip so I called it a day at that point with a bill of £35.44 incl service, a very pleasant way to spend a quiet Monday, I love the attention to detail in the design and menu is thoughtfully constructed, I’m sure it will be another hit, might even have to try polpo and polpetto now, damn!

Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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Thanks Gary, I'm heading to London for the weekend, and was wondering which to try: Spuntino, Polpetto or Polpo. Anyone been to all three?

Bit worried that truffle oil is creeping back onto menus... help!

‘main’ course was the now dish of 2011 truffled egg and toast. A cheesy double toast with a yolk in the hollowed out top piece with truffle oil and fontina cheese. A good dish but honestly not revelatory, maybe I was a bit ‘riched’ out by that point, though as a standalone it would make a hangover breakfast of kings I suspect with a bloody mary.

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Bit worried that truffle oil is creeping back onto menus... help!

‘main’ course was the now dish of 2011 truffled egg and toast. A cheesy double toast with a yolk in the hollowed out top piece with truffle oil and fontina cheese. A good dish but honestly not revelatory, maybe I was a bit ‘riched’ out by that point, though as a standalone it would make a hangover breakfast of kings I suspect with a bloody mary.

i'm assuming truffle oil, i suppose they could be storing eggs in a jar with a truffle, but for £5.50 a pop i don't think there's much chance of fresh!

you don't win friends with salad

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Read the DH review earlier today. Not sure about the chipped enamel coffee cups though. Otherwise it seems a good place for a relaxing scoff.

sorry piccie (courtesy of DH) is very big bt shows the enamel chips off nicely.IMG_5607.JPG

Edited by David Naylor (log)
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Corinna Dunne

Posted Today, 01:36 PM

Thanks Gary, I'm heading to London for the weekend, and was wondering which to try: Spuntino, Polpetto or Polpo. Anyone been to all three?

We have been to Polpo and Polpetto, Gary beat me to Sputino :wink: I reviewed both on here, and enjoyed both, although I just slightly preffered Polpetto. That, however, could be more on where we sat, and the feel of the place as opposed to the food quality, which was pretty much the same.

Polpo is more busy, buzzy, Polpetto can be the same of course, however it caters for less people, so in my opinion is a little more relaxed.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Read the DH review earlier today. Not sure about the chipped enamel coffee cups though. Otherwise it seems a good place for a relaxing scoff.

sorry piccie (courtesy of DH) is very big bt shows the enamel chips off nicely.IMG_5607.JPG

yes, i noticed that too, no doubt 'pre aged' mugs more expensive than perfect ones!

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 2 months later...

Its hard to keep pace with Russel Norman's rapidly expanding mini empire, never mind sample all of the other new offerings in our great city. I have been meaning to try here for some while, but have been distracted onto other things instead. Truth be told I had a craving to return to Zucca. A favourite that I reviewed on here some time ago. What changed was that I read a review in one of the nationals and really thought it about time that I finally got down here.

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As nondescript a frontage that you could imagine, but however in keeping (I assume) with the very strict design brief laid down by Norman. The area is tacky with a sex shop directly across the road, I was somehow glad that it was daytime.

The no bookings policy bugs me somewhat, but just before one on a Sunday lunch it was quite quiet with a good choice of barstool seats. Having said that about a half hour later a queue was already forming at the bottom of the room, such is the popularity of this place.

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We enjoyed the freebie, oversalted, chilli oilslicked popcorn as mentioned above, in a slobby sort of way.

The placemat/paper menu is short and to the point. Laid out as Spuntini,(snack) Sliders, (mini burgers),Salads, Plates, Sides, & Desserts. Then a very short wine and drinks list so as not to confuse.

We kicked off with some Eggplant chips (£4). which were served with a inoffensive fennel yogurt, for dunking said chips into. Not bad these, worth trying.

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Next up was some very tasty, but an incedibly mean serving of Softshell Crab (£9.50)served with a tabasco aioli. I'm sure this is the same dish that we ate at another Russel establishment, Polpetto, where the serving is more akin to generosity.

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The shaved fennel served with it was quite muted, perhaps as well really.

I had read quite a bit about the burgers, so we thought to try a couple of them to compare them to what we have eaten recently.

They both arrived on the same plate, Pulled Pork and pickled apple £4.50) and the one that I most wanted to try, the,Ground Beef and bone marrow £4.50).

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All the usual suspects.

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They looked impressive enough, with both having nice mounds of meaty filling. Copious amounts of cheese flowing down the beef. However the beef was lacking in dribbly moisture. It was cooked correctly, pinkish inside, but I wanted to index finger, dribbles of fatty goodness from around my mouth and chin and it did not happen. Shame.

Same again really for the pork, although with pork I suppose its not going to happen. Good porky flavour, did not get any pickle in the apple at all. Not really getting the buzz much. And most certainly the beef version nowhere near as enjoyable to the recently devoured one at Opera Tavern.

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Calamari, chick peas, ink, (£8) was decent. Not a lot to say about the dish really, it ate quite well. You need a spoon for the juices. Calamari is what it is, and thankfully this was not the chewy version. I think we would order this again, if we returned of course.

At this stage I enquired about bread, only to be informed that it was not charged for and was available, but none was in sight. A couple of minutes later it appeared with our next dish, Spicy sausage, lentils, and radicchio, (£8).

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An ok-ish sort of dish. The sausage (no I did not ask) had a muted, indistinct flavour. The slightly bitter radicchio is very popular in Italian cookery and worked quite well here, although I would have liked more flavour from the sauce.

The bread had been toasted and drizzled with the same chilli oil used to flavour the popcorn.

My wife cooked Macaroni cheese midweek and I just love her version over mine, which just does not have the same depth of flavour. So it just seemed fitting to put the Spuntino one to the test. Mac and Cheese (£8), is how it reads on the menu.

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This arrived at the table, bubbling like a witches cauldron. Visually it looked great, but would it pass the taste test? Well it did, but its not as good as the wifes, and no I'm not just saying that. Although she does add sliced tomato to her version, and most certainly a lot more cheese. Good portion size easily enough for two and this version has breadcrumbs? added, ours does not.

We skipped desserts. Full to the gunnels, we were defeated.

I have mixed feelings about Spuntino. It does what it does quite well. Food for the masses. At the type of price point, that if your on a budget you will feel well at home with. However from our point of view, the chasm that exists between the quality of food that we ate the previous day is glaring. Even if I lived in London I would not dash back here. If it were around the corner from me, I would venture a return to see if anything new was on the menu, but thats all. I'm sure part of the draw is the buzzy pack mentality that exists, a sort of comfort zone for the unsure.

Still you know what they say about pleasing all of the people, all of the time.

Kitchen put to the test. Based on two people dining, but in fairness enough food for three, perhaps four. In other words, all of the above food about £70, to include a perfectly drinkable bottle of House Merlot (with no labels on it), tap water, no coffees or other drinks.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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On the Sliders I agree with David. Tasty but the burger one lacked fatty moistness. I think I recall having similar issues with the Hawksmoor burger. Bottom line: Just because you chuck in bone marrow (which was pretty indiscernable in both burgers to be honest) it doesn't mean your burger's going to be any better.

One more observation - staff all very dressed up in speakeay-vibe t-shorts, extra short jeans etc. Helps add to the atmosphere and overall effect. I noticed something very similar at Gilbert Scott recent - staff all dolled up in faux period bracers with what appeared to be bicycle clips on their forearms.

My thought was it was more like the staff were wearing a costume/fancy dress rather than a work uniform. An obvious extension if you're running a "concept" restaurant I guess. In both cases mentioned it works very well.

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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