Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

Tagliatelle Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

We were in Italy a couple of weeks ago – a couple of days in Venice followed by a few days in Florence. While we were in Florence we took an organised day trip to San Gimignano, Siena, Castellina and finally a vineyard. On the way to Siena we were offered the option of having lunch at a place they’d chosen; we declined, hoping to go and find somewhere nice ourselves. Unfortunately, when we arrived we discovered that we’d have to find somewhere, eat and get back to the coach’s lunch spot in just 40 minutes!

We raced, somewhat aimlessly, down the streets and stumbled upon Trattoria La Tellina. The place was empty which is never a great sign, but it was still a bit early for lunch and we didn’t really have any choice so we went in. I ordered spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli) while Rob went for an arrabiata pasta dish. Mine was really tasty and very different to anything I’ve come across in Italian restaurants in London, but I still got food envy because Rob’s arrabiata sauce was the best I’ve ever tasted – absolutely divine!

We decided to try and recreate my dish – the final result was nowhere near as oily as the original (you decide if that’s a good or a bad thing) and was a little too fiery, but it was lovely nonetheless!

Tagliatelle Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
Serves 2
Prep time: 30 seconds
Cooking time: 10 mins

150-200g tagliatelle (depending how hungry you are)
2 cloves garlic, sliced four-ways
3tbsp good extra virgin olive oil (we used some we’d picked up in Lucca, mmm!)
2 whole dried chillis
salt and pepper
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Bring a large pan with 2l of salty water to a rolling boil, then add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet. When there are 5 minutes remaining, put the olive oil and chillis into a small frying pan and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, to bring out the flavour of the chilli. Season, then add the garlic and continue to cook for a couple of minutes taking care to ensure that it doesn’t burn as this will affect the flavour of the dish.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it then stir in the sauce and serve onto warmed plates, garnishing with the parsley.

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Tables in the conservatory dining room at Bank, Westminster.

On Friday, Erika and I found ourselves in Zander Bar, home to the longest bar (48 metres) in Europe and quite possibly some of the best cocktails in London. They can’t be too proud of the longest bar accolade as on this and a previous visit only 1/4 of it was open; the remaining 36 metres, stretching down to the light, airy restaurant at the back was uninhabited.

The bar itself is a place you’d be happy to spend an hour or two, sipping away at their glorious espresso martini (£7.80) or perhaps a ‘perfect blossom’ (also £7.80), a mix of mandarin blossom vodka, elderflower, fresh strawberries and apple juice. The staff are attentive and friendly, although this is not too surprising given there could only have been thirty five people there, and certainly know how to mix drinks. The area itself is a bit dark, and being 6ft 2 I’m not a fan of the low tables but you soon forget about that, quite possibly due to the ease with which the cocktails go down.

After a couple of drinks we took our seats in the restaurant. Many of the tables are situated in a conservatory which affords wonderful views over a courtyard (complete with fountain) and the three 19th century mansions which make up the adjoining hotel and apartment complex. It wasn’t a busy evening with only a few other diners but the restaurant felt neither empty nor quiet and it ensured that we got a good table and had our waiter’s attention throughout. The menu is modern European with a good selection of pasta, fish and meat dishes, priced on average at around £16 for a main.

Tempura king prawns with chilli jam at Bank, Westminster

Duck spring rolls with plum & pineapple sauce at Bank, Westminster

The waiter was quick to bring some bread (a choice of foccacia or ciabatta – neither of which were worth writing home about) and take our orders. For starters, Erika had tempura of king prawns with chilli and lime jam and I ordered crispy duck spring rolls with a plum and pineapple dipping sauce. The prawns were gigantic and perfectly cooked, encased in a light and crisp tempura batter. My spring rolls were very densely filled with duck and and the spring roll casing was crispy but not oily. The plum and pineaple sauce was disappointing; I much preferred Erika’s chilli jam.

Tandoori-baked lamb at Bank, Westminster

The plates were cleared away and our main courses arrived quickly. I had tandoori baked lamb cutlets with bombay potatoes, whilst Erika had salmon with an asparagus, crab and pea shoot salad and citrus dressing. The lamb was really well marinated: I could taste the ginger, cumin and coriander and it restored my faith in ordering lamb at a restaurant. So many times in the past I have ended up with just two mouthfulls of chewy meat. The accompanying bombay potatoes (served with some thick slices of onion too) were nice but not exceptional, although well cooked and spicy, and complemented the lamb well.

Salmon with asparagus and crab & pea-shoot salad with citrus dressing at Bank, Westminster

Erika’s salmon was perfectly cooked as was the asparagus it sat on. The citrus dressing, with pieces of orange and grapefruit, really lifted the whole dish. Erika also had a side order of the most delicious, creamiest mashed potato – the type of mash you can only ever get in a restaurant because you could never allow yourself to use so much butter at home!

There’s a lot of choice on the dessert menu and we were nearly tempted into ordering but were put off by the arrival of a large noisy group sitting near us. When ordering dessert I have an internal countdown timer which starts when given the menu. At first I want to order the most sickly sweet pudding but I eventually begin to feel full and come to the realisation that more food probably isn’t a good idea. Thankfully for my waistline our waiter was busy seating the group and by the time he came over, we’d both changed our minds (however, from previous experience Kitty definitely recommends the sticky toffee pudding!). The bill was requested, dutifully delivered and paid and then it was off out into the streets of St. James’. I’d have quite liked to swap the tube journey home for a quick walk to one of their apartments!

Bank Restaurant and Zander Bar
45 Buckingham Gate

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