Tuesday, 7 February 2017

New Post, New Restaurant. Palatino, Old Street

In the immortal words of Adele. Hello.

I know it's been a while since my last post and I apologise for my absence, life has just annoyingly got in the way. I say life, we all know that means work, and for the past 2 years I certainly have been consumed with that. You have to work in order to live yet some times it is the work that stops just that. 

Anyway that chapter of my life is just about to draw to a close so Ill be able to spend a lot more time with you but more on that later... 

So to kick off things in this new year I have just the thing, a brand spanking new restaurant and a very good one at that. 

May I introduce Palatino, the latest (food) baby from Stevie Parle who already has a long line a successful restaurants under his belt including Dock Kitchen, Craft, Rotorino and Sardine, which pretty much assured me that it was going to be awesome. 

We were invited along to the preview by Adam so Dan and I gathered our stomachs and headed off to see what all the fuss was about. 

Tucked away in the back streets off Old Street, Palatino is an unassuming space with an industrial 'cafe' feel to it. This is possibly because it is attached to Fora, a hot-desking office space so although it is operating as a restaurant in its own right it will also serve this. The yellow and grey themed space is light, airy and functional which lends itself to the cafe feel, however there was a fantastic buzz to the place when we arrive. 

There is a large communal table running down the middle of the dining area with banquettes that can hold big groups as well as couples seating. Dan and I were seated on the communal table and it still managed to feel intimate with the low hanging lights. It's a very clever design which felt welcoming to all types, those for a working lunch, a quick solo lunch or groups wanting a longer, lazier meal; I'm guessing exactly what it needs to be! 

Now on to the important stuff. 


First things first, it is important know that you can buy every single wine on the menu by the glass. This is thanks to the guys using the Coravin technique, (essentially driving a needle through the cork to siphon off the wine and then stuffing the bottle with argon gas to keep the wine from oxidising), which means you can drink from the bottle without actually opening it. For any wine lovers this now means that you can treat yo self to that glass (£25-£40) of Borolo without having to splash out on the whole bottle (£150-£220). 

Before you gasp out loud, (because you are borderline alcoholics like Dan and myself and one glass is simple not going to happen) there are plenty of other very reasonable Italian wines you can chose from and, if like me you are not so well versed in Italian wine, the waiting staff are very knowledgeable on the list and our lovely waitress helped us pick out two delightfully crisp glasses of white wine 
Le Pianure Bianco, Veneto, 2015 £5 / £18 /£26
 to start and a delightfully medium body little number with a peppery finish.  
Barbera D’Asti, Tenuta Olim Bauda, Piedmont, 2014 
£6 / £21.5 / £34

Now down to the real business of food. The Roma inspired menu is split into antipasti, primi (pasta), secondi (mains) and contorni (sides). Adams advice was to chose 4 antipasti, 2 pasta and 1-2 mains. We got stuck right in and went with 3 antipasti, 2 pastas and 3 mains (naturally). 

First up was the Speck, finocchiona & coppa (£7). A really wonderful plate of charcuterie and it turns out that all the meat is smoked and cured at their very own Craft, based in Greenwich annnnnnnd you can buy it! Hurray! It really is very very good stuff and Dan knows his sausage!  

Next to arrive were the Supli, wild mushroom & mozzarella (£3). Now arancini are good at the best of times, but when they contain a molten centre of cheese? OOOMMMMMMnomnomnom. 

Creamy, crispy and with a real earthiness of mushroom the were just divine. I fought Dan for the last bit, and won. 

Last on our list of antipasti was the Salt cod crudo, blood orange, 2016 cappezana olive (£8). This was my least favourite but then I am not a huge fan of salt cod. However the little cubes of blood orange really added such a freshness to the dish and I left Dan to hoover the lot. 

By this time we had seen a number of dishes coming out of the kitchen and I was more than excited for the arrival of the Ravioli, spinach & squash (£8/£14). Swimming in glossy butter I dived right in to smoosh open the little green parcels to expose the brilliant orange interior. 

The squash puree was as thick, rich and sweet as it should be and the pasta light as anything. A must order I would say. 

Next to land on our table was the Bombolotti ragu 'Marcella' (£8.5/£14). Next to the ostentatious colours of the ravioli, Dan and I just looked at it and then at each other. "It looks like a bowl of sick" whispered Dan. I can't say I disagreed. 

However, the proof is in the pudding right? Although the ragu was certainly not the prettiest guy at the party, it was a dish that really got better and better the more you ate of it. The flavours just built in your mouth until it became so moorish, a really deep earthy flavour that can only come of slow cooking and maturing, I apologised to the bowl and polished off the lot. 

I will admit, I was starting to feel a touch full at this point so I took a little stroll to the loo to try and aid digestion. It also allowed for a little sneaky peak round the corner. When you walk into Palatino it is a L shape, to your left is the open kitchen and dining area and the bar then runs down the right length. In the corner is what looks like lecture theatre steps and by the entrance to the loos is the opening to the office spaces. The bar is going to be a great space for after work drinks. 

I got back just in time to be able to order another bottle of wine just before our not one, not two but three mains arrived.

I apologise to my gall bladder, you've been a real trooper all these years, don't think its gone unnoticed.

The star of the show was the first to show up. Chicken, pancetta & pistachio meatballs, polenta (£12.5). Yes I know, it sounds odd, Dan gave me a look when I said we had to order it as I'd heard too much about it to let it go. I said star of the show and I really mean it, this is a stand out dish. The meatballs are salty, sweet and moist, sitting on a nest of the cheesiest creamiest potenta. A mouthful if this with a a fried sage leaf was just heaven but what really pulled it all together? The jus, just a tiny drizzle of the stuff but really it made it all sing. 

If, when, you go, and you don't order these, we are no longer friends (unless you're Maddie Ill let you pass as the amount of cheese would probably kill you).   

Dipping in and out of mouthfuls of meat balls was the Pork chop, olives, anchovy & cream (£17). I am a huuuuuuuuge pork chop fan and this certainly lived up to all I want in a chop. I thick line of sweet fat running down one side, pink in the middle and smothered in anchovy seasoning. Ill admit even the fat was probably a bit much even for me, but the flavour was divine and the meat excellent. I'm gonna try this one at home me thinks. Might even throw in a vegetable for good measure.

Dans choice was the Saltimbocca; veal, prosciutto, spinach, sage & Marsala (£14). I almost don't know what to say here without sounding repetitive really. Guess what, it is also really good. The prosciutto beautifully crispy lending a crunch to the dish, hiding succulent veal underneath flavoured with sage. The iron rich spinach a perfect accompaniment all brought together with a deep rich marsala sauce. 

Dan offered me tasters but that was all I was getting out of him really. This was his stand out dish especially with the side of Fried potato gnocchi (£4) 

These lighter than air little crispy puffs were perfect for wiping up the juice on our plates and cutting through the fat. Deep fried and tossed in a little rosemary salt, these would make even just the perfect bar snack. Really different and a pleasant surprise as one ofter expects gnocchi to bog you down.

In case all this food we consumed hasn't make you feel a bit sick yet, here are a few more shots of the simple yet divine dishes.

 Dish 6,7,8,9 of our small, light, calorie free lunch.
I mean, thank god I found a boy who likes to eat!

I would like it to be known that by now I was totally stuffed. I've never been a huge dessert fan, Dan however is, so you can be rest assured there will be plenty more sweet things appearing on this blog now. 

He couldn't turn down a tiramisu so we were kindly brought a delicate slab. Through his mumbles I gather it lived up to everything a tiramisu should be.

Job done. Menu pretty well tested and I would say it's bombproof. Honestly the things I put myself through for you guys. There is something for everyone here so whether or not you are going to be a large group here for lunch or having dinner with just two. I would be really interested to go back and see how the space fairs in the evening. 

Further down the line they are going to start breakfast and then made to order pizzas for lunch. I personally can't wait to find an excuse to go back. 

Thanks so much for having us! 

Square Meal

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