Where I live in Westminster, you’re never more than 5 minutes from a Pret a Manger, there’s at least two Pizza Express’, a Zizzi’s, a Nando’s (Mr S’s favourite) and a Wagamama.
Argghhh…won’t someone help me break free from these chains…
Ok, admittedly I regularly pop in to Pret for a porridge and coffee and Wagamama’s is an easy Sunday solution but in this rather homogenous London world it becomes a rare treat to find an independent family run place that is passionate about it’s produce.
When I entered Acciuga in Kensington I’m greeted with a very warm welcome by Simona, the restaurant’s marketing manager and I was quickly fetched a drink of sparkling rose to enjoy while I wait for my friend to arrive.
The dining room was clean and classic…and yes it was rather quiet but we were having a late lunch on a weekday so I wouldn’t assume this was the regular state of affairs.
The muted tones of the dining room are very much enlivened by bold works of art which line one entire wall.
Including a picture that is reminiscent of the restaurant’s namesake which means anchovy.
I am soon introduced to the front of house manager, who is actually the father of the chef / owner of the restaurant…see I told you it was a family affair. The chef is Guglielmo Arnulfo who left careers in law and a rugby player to turn professional chef and focus on dishes from the north west region of Liguria, the food of his childhood. He’s only 24 yet he’s worked with Michellin starred chefs such Edoardo Ferrera and Claudio Pasquarelli.
Returning back to today, I had asked the restaurant if it was ok for my friend to bring her baby.
‘Of course,’ was the response,’We’re very family friendly’
When Lauren arrived the front of house manager immediately helped her with the buggy and carried up the single step. Once settled we were served a little amuse bouche to get us started.
Mediterranean anchovies breaded and fried. The anchovy is perhaps the ultimate Marmite food (apart from marmite itself) but like me, Lauren is not a big meat eater. We are in fact both practically pescatarian and both enjoy most kinds of fish. The anchovy wasn’t overly salty and the light coating of breadcrumbs was lovely.
While we were munching on bread sticks and catching up on the latest gossip, Lauren’s little one was being as good as gold. Having only been in this world around four weeks, she’s tiny and so adorable! No, I’m not getting broody…well not yet!
Lauren was excited to order a tuna tartar…a dish that she loves that had been off limits while she was pregnant. I ordered the same and very much enjoyed the fresh tuna chunks, drizzle of balsamic and the lemon zest. My one criticism would be a slight lack of seasoning, salt improved it but I think that the inclusion of chilli or wasabi would perfect this dish.
Lauren’s pasta dish was so fine, and light…you don’t get pasta like this in Zizzi’s…and the accompanying squid was perfectly cooked. However, perhaps pasta here is not usually served as a main course as the portion was fairly small.
My dish was sea bass with olives, pine nuts and potatoes. The flavours were there and it was delicious, but I felt that the plating was a little messy and once again the portion very small. Now personally, this was good for me as I’d rather over stretched myself and I was reviewing a restaurant for dinner too. However, I thought if I’d bought Mr S, he’d have been left wanted more.
Having said that, I requested a portion of vegetables, and though this side dish wasn’t on the menu, the chef rustled a very tasty dish that also looked the part.
I most also give praise to the attentive service of the manager. He was incredibly helpful towards my friend and her new born baby, frequently offering help, fetching hot water and allowing us to take up lots of space. He was also clearly very passionate about the restaurant and food of the region and gave a detailed explanation about the provenance of the ingredients. The young chef also took the time to come out and speak to us which is really a highllight for me.
And for my main dessert I chose fresh cut fruit – boring I know but not only was I reviewing a restaurant tonight but I had one the next day too…
Lauren’s chocolate pudding was the obviously more exciting option, and I did sneak a taste. For some reason all the photos that I took on my camera came out blurry, this one I took on my phone, hence the difference in quality and colour.
Acciuga, is a restaurant serving lovely food, I just wish that there was more of it! However, it’s certainly charming and a little diamond among the chains with warm service and a great place to take the family.
343 Kensington High Street
020 7603 3888
I was invited to review Acciuga but I am honest as ever