Friday nights in London are usually chaotic but Cucina Asellina – the Italian eaterie based on the popular New York offering, Asellina – provided my guest and I with an oasis of trendy calm for our catch up.
As we walked through the swanky ME Hotel in London’s Covent Garden (where I recently visited with Mr Husband to check out STK – the new steakhouse), we had great expectations for Cucina Asellina, which resides within the same luxury hotel property.
As we entered the restaurant, we couldn’t help but notice the décor – elegantly light, fresh with flowers and huge glass windows looking out to theatre land and a slightly buzzy energy but without the overcrowded feeling that other parts of this hotel have on weekend nights.
We kicked off our meal with calamari fritti – fried morsels with a tangy tomato relish that’s subtly enhanced with the flavour of fresh marjoram. We also shared a board of selected meats including mortadella, prosciutto, bresaola, speck, finocchiona (a type of salami flavoured with fennel seeds), home made porchetta and lardo di colonnata (thinly sliced trips cured with rosemary and other fragrant herbs and spices). Some cheeses help set the balance including pecorino sardo, fontina, gorgonzola and taleggio 10. This starter spread also comes with a pot of delicious truffle honey – an utterly more-ish condiment that we kept dipping our cheeses into.
Next up was the pasta course. As you will most probably know about Italians, they never like to do things by halves and the same goes with food. Instead of the usual three courses, they like to indulge in four: antipasti (a starter), primi (first course, usually the bit involving pasta), secondi (second course) and dessert. So, we tucked in to our plates. I sampled the rather traditional square spaghetti with pomodoro sauce dressed with fresh basil and olive oil, while my guest tried the lobster linguine with cherry tomatoes.
Full from the hearty size of our primi dishes, we didn’t move on to secondi but the monkfish special and the roasted lamb with artichokes potatoes and wine sounded appealing.
Finally, no Italian meal would be complete for me without a taste of tiramisu. Our favourite part to this entire meal, I enjoyed a refreshingly light, creamy tiramisu served in a coffee cup with an icy cold scoop of amaretto flavoured ice-cream. My guest also enjoyed her chocolate cake with orange sauce.
If you’re wondering when would best work to visit, we recommend stopping by for a pre-theatre dinner menu, or to entertain a large group with its new sharing brunch menu, called tavolata. In short, it’s a suitable pit-stop, or last-minute group option.
For more information visit: www.asellina.com
By Reena Patel