My friend V suggested this place for our next meet, she said she’d been walking past it on the way to work and liked the look of it, so we ought to give it a try. It’s a fish restaurant, which is always a hit with me, so, I booked a table for 6.30pm last Friday (yes, I know that’s an early dinner, but haven’t you ever listened to the words in “That’s why the Lady is a Tramp?” Bring it on Frankie.)
The outside of the restaurant is lovely. Glass fronted with olive trees in pots. Inside, we were greeted by three young ladies, very smiley and friendly, who confirmed our booking and took us to our table. This is where the fun began.
Our waitress, Ally, came over with an iPad, and then explained how it all worked. Not the iPad per se, I’m using one to type this on, but how it worked in the restaurant. Basically, the idea is that it is a restaurant for sharing (no, no, no, that is so wrong! I don’t want to share my food with anyone. Joey doesn’t share food! I explained this to Ally, who, thankfully, understood.) If you wanted dishes brought up together, call her, and don’t use the iPad. The iPad is not as intuitive as a human. Back to the point, there are lots of dishes that, if you were so inclined, you could share with someone. I did say to V it would be great if you were with a man, like the couple at the table next to us, they seemed to enjoy the sharing thing, and I do concede that there are some foods I will share, but as a rule of thumb, keep your hands off my food.
In the whole spirit of the restaurant, we opted for tuna stuffed olives and salmon carpaccio to start. I may have mentioned before that I don’t eat wheat… Well, the olives arrived hot and lightly battered. The peeling off of the batter was worth it, they were delicious, and I would definitely have them again. The salmon carpaccio was exactly as it should have been, and garnished with a lightly scented baby basil. There was a bit of tomato in there too. I was in seventh heaven.
Because of the iPad system, we didn’t order our main course until we’d finished the starter, although we’d both made up our minds…. Well, almost, I changed my mind at the last minute. Ally told us that if we ordered on the iPad, our food might not come up together, so best to order through her if we were not sharing.
V opted for the Fritto Misto, a selection of different seafoods, again, lightly battered. She said it was absolutely delicious, the batter wasn’t too much. I had clams in white wine with parsley and chill. They got the seasoning just right, in my opinion, although I love a chilli, clams have way too delicate a flavour to have too much of a good thing.
We shared a portion of divine asparagus and we both had chips. Yes, I did say we both had chips. And I had mayonnaise too, so health police, shoot me. It doesn’t happen often.
To top it all off, we had a bottle of Muscadet. The whole meal was lovely, the service was great, apart from not realising that my olives would be battered, there was nothing I didn’t like. And that is not, in any way, a complaint. Our table was booked for two hours, although I guess we could have stayed in the bar for another bottle of wine.
The restaurant is an alliance between Rex Goldsmith, known on Twitter as The Chelsea Fishmonger, which just happens to be the name of his fishmonger’s shop, and Sicilian chef Mariano li Vigni. It’s fairly new, it opened in November 2014. They’ve run restaurants together before (the Burger and Lobster chain for one) so I guess they know how each other works by now.
The restaurant itself is open plan, as in the tables are all at the front of the restaurant, there is a bar area at the end furthest from the entrance, and then there is a fresh fish counter behind the tables. The kitchen area lays behind that, and is almost open to the public. When I say almost, the upper part is but there are kitchen appliances in the way. It was very light and airy, in the style of having all the aluminium ducting on show. Although that’s not really my style, somehow it worked in here. I can imagine it getting quite noisy, which I don’t like, but that wasn’t a problem on this visit.
One of the quirky things about the restaurant is that they don’t bring finger bowls, but they do have a couple of big sinks for people to wash their hands. I’m quite fussy about this – I wash my hands when I arrive back in my house and before eating, just like mother taught me. (I wash them on quite a lot of other occasions too.) My usual habit is to use hand sanitiser when I arrive in a restaurant, and then again after I’ve been to the ladies… You just never know what other peoples’ habits are. As I was doing this, Ali pointed out the huge sink (I’m going to call it a large Butler’s sink, I’m not sure whether that is correct) close to our table. There was another circular sink near to the entrance. I thought that was quite a nice touch.
We really enjoyed the food here, and I intend to try to work my way through the card so I will be going back again and again.
© Susan Shirley 2015