THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
In July Tavolino launched their new 100 seat terrace, 'Capri by the river' and invited me to dine al fresco. Unfortunately, Inghilterra forgot to launch summer! There were a fair few, clearly of less reptilian descent, who braved the cold. Not me. It’s a gorgeous terrace but at 15 degrees, I chose to dine al chiuso! Inside, the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Thames bring the outside in. And the view of the Tower is spectacular. Should we ever have a sunny day, the terrace will be a hot spot.
Our waitress, Beatrice, was absolutely flawless. She timed our meal perfectly, made great recommendations and had a sense of humor that brightened our evening.
I started with a Fragola (£10), an infusion of gin, strawberry and black pepper with lime and pink peppercorns. The strawberry dominated, losing the heat of pepper and the bitterness of lime. A Mediterranean Tonic (£10) had much better balance with gin, orange jam and orange bitters. Perfect for a hot summer day. Hmmm…
The menu at Tavolino is not ground-breaking but the food is excellent and great value. It’s ingredients-based and what isn’t made on site is sourced from top producers. Burrata, heritage tomato, cucumber, capers and pickled shallot (£10.50) is a great example. A simple dish made with quality produce that just sings of summer.
Lardo and oregano sourdough pizzetta (£6) made me so happy. A perfect crust, crisp and lightly charred, topped with thin slices of meltingly soft, salty fat. What’s not to love?
Pastas are made on the premises and the tagliatelle was excellent. Just the right bite. Spicy pork and nduja ragu (£13.50) was very well judged. The heat was prevalent without overpowering the dish, with fresh Parmigiano grated generously at the table.
Grass fed braised beef, summer truffle, polenta and stracchino (£18.50) was gorgeous. The beef just fell apart, the polenta creamy and the truffle generous. A rich reduction sauce brought it all together perfectly. Soft, creamy stracchino, a soft and creamy cheese made with uncooked cow's milk, added a great element of surprise but there was far too little of it!
A bottle of San Fiorenzo Bolgheri from Tuscany (£46) is a super Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Plummy, good tannin structure and dark cherry. This was a 2018 though no vintages are listed on the menu.
For dessert I had to try the balsamic chocolate mousse with Planeta olive oil ice cream (£7). The quality of the dark chocolate was fabulous in both the mousse and decorative shards. The vinegar worked a treat, adding a great touch of acid in lieu of fruit. The ice cream balanced it out with sweetness but the olive oil was lost. I wanted a drizzle of oil on top and dare I say, a pinch of salt?
We were torn over our second choice, but Beatrice put us right. Amalfi lemon meringue (£8.50). Curd, a heavenly cloud of lightly torched marshmallow meringue and a lemon sorbet that knocked me out.
Now about the sun…