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The Boyfriend and I are polar opposites. I like to organise, plan and book things in advance. The thought of a weekend without a reservation somewhere is a stressful thought. To be fair, this isn't entirely my fault, but restaurants in London seem to be booked so far in advance it is only logical to book restaurants for the next three months. The Boyfriend on the other hand, like so many males, doesn't like to organise, plan or book things in advance. He is a more spontaneous, happy-go-lucky kinda guy and before we started dating there were only two restaurants he knew in London - Sophie's and Barrafina (both reservation less).

Spuntino, the new Russell Norman place, is The Boyfriend's dream restaurant.  There is no booking or even a phone number to call to check how big the line up is. Not even a menu online.  Sans restaurant reservation on Saturday and swayed by many good reviews, The Boyfriend and I decided to check it out.
My rule with heading to restaurants without booking is either be there at 6pm or earlier or if later, wear flats and don't be hungry.

When we arrived at 6pm, there was surprisingly no queue, although I really doubt that in a month that will be the case, and we were seated immediately. It is basically a glorified bar. Its purposefully meant to look a bit bedraggled, dark and dingy, and the staff all have large tattoos which adds to the effect. In that respect, the clientele doesn't really match the atmosphere.

The closest thing you could call the menu is American and, my god, it is a good menu. I immediately wanted everything. 

Before we got to ordering, paprika popcorn and water arrived (there is no tap snobbery here). Wine came after.

Eggplant Chips with Fennel came next and they were satisfyingly crunchy and non greasy.

Mac and Cheese arrived shortly after. Due to my addiction to M&C, I opted to give it up as my New Year's Resolution, the opt out of this is that I can still order it in restaurants. This was possibly the best M&C I have ever eaten in a restaurant. It had just enough cheese, unlike so many restaurants, although the pasta was not al dente enough, and I wanted it to be slightly crispier. I also didn't love the fact that M&C came first, and would have preferred to have it later, as M&C is more of a side dish in my opinion and was too filling to start but in hindsight maybe this was down to how we asked for our order.

Next came the famed Truffle Egg Toast, a thick slice of toast, egg yolk and fontina cheese pretending to be the egg white. I expected a lot from this dish and it let me down. It had been a tad overcooked - the bread was almost impossible to cut, and eventually I just gave up, the cheese had started to congeal and the yolk wasn't nearly runny enough. However, the thought that they could do this perfectly is enough to make me want to go back and try it.

Soft Shell Crab arrived with the toast, a combination I wouldn't recommend, but the crab was light and crunchy but not all that exciting given how well Japanese restaurants seemed to be doing things with Soft Shell Crab.

Cheddar Grits arrived with them. My knowledge of grits is limited to one occasion at a Cracker Barrel, somewhere off a motorway in Pennsylvania - so basically, not much. I found the mature cheddar flavour a little too overpowering, but still tasty.

We finished with calamari, chickpeas and squid ink which was fabulous. The only downside being that without a lot of concentration, both The Boyfriend and I ended up wearing squid ink lipstick.

I'm still stuck trying to decide what the most remarkable thing about Spuntino is. Whether its that a) the food was incredibly good, or b) that it was equally incredibly reasonably priced or c) if it was that in the hour or so we spent there was never any pressure to eat faster or even d) leave or that in a restaurant so affordable they gave away quite a bit - the popcorn and eggplant chips were both free. Yes, the dishes came quickly and a little too quickly for my liking and so we ended up with a pile up, but they weren't rushed away when we had finished and we had to ask for the check. It would be easy, especially with a queue of people waiting for seats, for them to whisk us away but they didn't. They let us sit there and enjoy our wonderful food.

The bill came to £71.00, which included service, two carafes (one 500 ml and 250 ml), and food enough for four. We could have left out the toast and the grits and still been unable to finish. 

Spuntino on Urbanspoon


Reader Comments (1)

I LOVED Spuntino and agree about the M&C - one of the best I've had in a restaurant too. Maybe only beaten by Schiller's in NYC.

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmma Louise Layla

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