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It's no secret that I love La Petite Maison, Il Baretto,  Roka and Zuma. Whilst the combination may seem random they all have one thing in common - Arjun Waney as a backer. The man has something of a Midas Touch when it comes to restaurant, all have great food, lively atmosphere and attentive service (aside from Il Baretto). It is sad that there is not that many restaurants in London I can say the same about. In addition to this all have managed to retain "it" restaurant status without compromising on food. Aurelia is the fifth to join the crew in London, elsewhere Zumas and LPMs are popping up everywhere, so its nice his attention is back to the capital.

Aurelia is of a similar ilk to LPM, it’s Mediterranean with an emphasis on sharing. This was my second trip to the restaurant but I was excited to try it out properly with The Boyfriend, his mother and I, one Wednesday.

The restaurant is spread out over two floors, the first floor containing a bar, whilst the lower ground has bar seats with a kitchen view. LG is where you want to be, it feels more like a real restaurant, and you are away from a sporadic drafts of winter air. The downstairs is pleasant enough, the kitchen bar being a defining feature, with a couple of brightly coloured pieces of art dotted around to add a spark to the otherwise muted tones of the decor. The clientele was surprisingly dressed up for a Wednesday night, the females in a uniform of jeans, blazers, six inch louboutins and Chanel 2.55s. I was probably the only female in the restaurant in flats.

We started with three starters - Lentil Salad, Burrata and Seabass Carpaccio. The lentil salad failed to live up to the quality of the similar dish at LPM, although was on the whole pleasing. The flavours are subtle, but interesting, and a light way to start the meal. Burratta, was delicious, soft and gooey, with a touch of basil and tomato to add a hit of flavour. Seabass Carpaccio however, tasted more like pork than fish and was rather smoky and dry compared to what one would expect from fish carpaccio.


Main courses were equally mixed. My Tagliolini with Clams was okay. The pasta (freshly made) was delicate, but managed to avoid any claginess. The sauce, sadly, was under-powering, chili, garlic and clams all felt a little meek, like their flavours weren't really quite there. The dish was also surprisingly small, I normally struggle to finish pasta dishes, but this was gone within about ten minutes, something that could not be attributed to the quality. The Boyfriend's Saffron Gnocchi with Artichokes and Pecorino with the pieces of artichoke, when included on every other bite, helped refresh your palate and the combination of Gnocchi with Pecorino was well balanced and comforting.

We completed the meal with a Crème Brulee with passion fruit, which though technically perfect, was off in terms of flavour.

Service was hit and miss, a round of drinks we ordered halfway through the meal took a while to show up, and we ended up having to ask again. The concept similar to LPM here also started to frustrate me. We were clearly not going for the sharing concept, but still brought out each dish "as it was ready", meaning that The Boyfriend's Mother's steak was going cold by the time my pasta showed up. In a restaurant of these prices and quality, one would expect them to serve dishes together, as its not a bloody Wagamamas.

Overall, it lacks the same spark as it's siblings - Il Baretto and La Petite Maison. I think the Waney brand may have just moved into diseconomies of scale, what with their recent openings in Dubai and New York. Its a shame because London needs more restaurants like this, glamourous but informal, elegant but cool, if only this could live up to the previous standards. The bill came to around £160, for 2.3 courses each and three glasses of wine.


Aurelia on Urbanspoon




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