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.
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.
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.
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.