As the English well know, Italians understand how to savour life’s pleasures with far more zest and panache than we ever could. So as a devotee of Harry’s Bar in Venice, and friend of owner Arrigo Cipriani, it was with some trepidation that I went to Mayfair’s C London (formerly Cipriani). Could it ever match the legendary Harry’s Bar, compete with its luscious Bellinis and super-light bread rolls? Or indeed the inimitable
service and Arrigo’s warm welcome?
Happily, C London is very much its own place. It’s like being on a slick, art deco ocean liner in the 1930s. The setting is pale polished wood with chrome detail, frosted glass, Pullman lamps and eye-catching portholes with moving images of the sea. There’s a warm glow, with bustling waiters in starched white jackets and bow ties and, to top it all, there is an extensive, diverse menu.
The Sicilian waiter chose a smoky white wine from the slopes of Mount Etna for us, a great accompaniment to my tuna tartare, which came with a luscious little pie, and my companion’s crisp puntarelle and anchovies. My succulent Dover sole was among the best I’ve had, grilled with herbs and lemon, nicely accompanied by a side of spinach.
And then the parade of desserts, just when you thought you were going to be oh so controlled. There’s an outrageously good zabaglione cake, and sensationally good meringues.
The prices are in the eye-watering category for sure, but this is the best address in London for a perfect Bellini, a classy setting and guaranteed good European food.
Moreover, judging by the stream of beautiful people, the power couples, French and Italian women in six-inch heels and McQueen attire and posh, pukka Englishmen, C London is one of the places to be.
23-25 Davies Street, London W1K 3DE
T: 020 7399 0500
New(ish) place in town
Seven, a slice of sourdough heaven, has recently opened in Harrow.
Entering the elegantly designed pizzeria, you feel you’ve taken a large step from the hustle and bustle of Station Road. Exposed brickwork, double-vaulted floor-to-ceiling glass windows and trendy artwork give the place NYC loft-style panache. It’s a great place to impress someone locally, or to take the family at the weekend and will give your taste buds a transatlantic extravaganza without denting your wallet.
The menu comprises a choice of seven pizzas, very reasonably priced, especially given the quality and size (£4.60 to £6.90). All come with a sourdough base – apparently the healthier choice – made daily on-site. It is crunchy and crisp on the outside, spongey in the middle and adorned with artisan-looking toppings. The buffalo mozzarella tastes like the real deal, sourced direct from Italy. Seven’s wood-fired pizza oven heats up to 500ºC, meaning the pizzas are cooked in under a minute.
For those who can resist the carb temptation, there is a superfood salad with either lightly-smoked mackerel or peri-peri chicken, or a chicken Caesar salad. I had the former – a fresh, generous, healthy portion of spinach, beans, cucumber, seeds, quinoa and mackerel for the bargain price of £7.30. Clean and simple, no razzmatazz.
The best part was dessert, specifically the Nutella sourdough pizza doughnut– hot bread oozing lashings of warm, gooey Nutella – taking my guilt and cholesterol to another level.
A nicely curated wine list offers three types of red and white, plus one of rose, ranging from about £15 to £20 for a bottle and £5 for a glass.
Seven is a little slice of seventh heaven in Harrow.
362 Station Road
Harrow HA1 2DE
T: 020 3802 6175
On the side..
Covent garden’s latest
Could Covent Garden house any more restaurants? Margot is the latest opening in this foodie haven. Seamless service, refined interiors, authentic Italian food and an extensive international wine list are promised. It’s large (104 covers), elegant and contemporary, with a palette of deep blues with copper accents. The tiramisu with chocolate heart and crumble is enough to tempt me!
Everyone has a personal favourite for fish and chips, but I must give a shout-out to my local in Mill Hill, Frydays – meaty, succulent fish, crispy matzo meal coating and fabulous fries (batter-coated or simply grilled). Portions are so huge we always have leftovers.
020 8959 4318
Fitzrovia favourite The Ninth, with celebrated chef Jun Tunaka at the helm, has been awarded a Michelin star. So-called because it is the ninth restaurant in which he has worked (although the first he has owned), The Ninth offers relaxed neighbourhood dining focused on French-Mediterranean sharing plates and arguably the best tarte tatin in London.
Fucina is another new Italian restaurant, this time from the team behind Chotto Matte and Black Roe. Fucina represents a new wave of Italian cooking in London, elevating simple ingredients to umami-rich creations. Handmade pasta and stone-baked pizza are both made from organic wholemeal flour and there is a wood-fired pit for