Undo that belt buckle and inhale the bolognese
FOR SUMMER NIGHTS
THEO’S SIMPLE ITALIAN
If you want to eat the best steak in the whole of London, come to Theo’s. It’s the size of your plate, cooked with restraint (that’s a good thing!) and accompanied by a side of vegetables that you actually find yourself eating first (rather than leaving until the end, and spreading around on your plate like a small, broccoli-avoiding child). But, er, you might want to bring a coat. Spacious and calm, this Italian restaurant serves up a comprehensive menu of amazing antipasti, gorgeous pastas and simple-but-totally-delicious mains – it’s just that the whole space is a little bit chilly at the same time.
Gloss over that though (the restaurant has only been open for a couple of months, so maybe it’ll warm up with a bit of wear and tear) and focus on the design of the bathrooms (all turquoise and gold, your Instagram will love it) – when summer comes, this will be the perfect spot for some low key, Mediterranean-inspired dining (there’s even a teeny tiny balcony table for summer night romance). You’ll leave feeling full to bursting, and desperate to know the recipe for their bruschetta.
FOR NIGHTS OUT WITH FRIENDS
Old Brompton Road
Sure, it’s located on one of the busiest roads in South West London, but this is the cosiest, tiniest restaurant we’ve come across in a long time. Family run (and with the manager’s mum in the back kitchen, hand making the pasta from scratch), definitely head here with a girlfriend for a weeknight out after work. You may have to squeeze up a bit (and you may find yourself bumping elbows with the couple next to you) but that just adds to the intimate atmosphere. This is the kind of place where you imagine getting to know the waiters by name, and which you can introduce to colleagues with the line, ‘oh, I know a great little place in Kensington’ (which NEVER happens).
The speciality is Piadine – think half Panini, half quesadilla, half cheese toastie (if there was ever an element to bend the rules of simple mathematics, it’s melted cheese) – so order one of those as soon as you sit down, then get started on working your way through the primi, secondi and dulci menu on offer. As a heads up, the pasta portions are definitely starter material – but that’s no bad thing, as it just leaves you with extra room for the chocolate soufflé. Yes? YES.
FOR ROMANTIC DATES
What do you get when you cross tapas with pasta? No, not tapasta (although somebody should really coin that phrase) – the answer being, of course, simply the best thing to happen to gastronomy since a man (or woman) placed the sharp edge of a knife against a loaf of bread. That’s what.
As a heads up, you would never, ever find this place if we weren’t telling you about it right now. But that’s no bad thing – it just means it’s quiet, romantic, and in a lovely location off the cobbled streets between busy Farrington and quiet Farringdon. Think dim lighting, heavily accented waiters and authentic Italian food options. And while tapas usually comes with the risk that you’ll order eighteen dishes, only to find yourself a) balancing them on the floor, and b) handing over half a month’s rent at the end of the meal, these are purse-friendly and perfectly portioned. Try everything, but make sure you kick off with the burrata.
FOR IMPRESSING YOUR PARENTS
There are a few things that you should know before booking a table at Sartoria. First up, you probably want to brush your hair first. This is definitely the kind of restaurant where people brush their hair. To be honest, it’s probably the kind of restaurant where people pay other people to brush their hair, but let’s be realistic for a second: you want to save that money for an extra course.
Which leads us onto the other thing you need to know. There are a LOT of courses for you to work your way through, and while at first it might be confusing (seriously, we spent the initial eight minutes staring at other people’s tables in an attempt to work out what they were doing with the menu) it pays off. And by ‘pays off’, we mean, ‘makes you feel really, really, really full’. In a good way
It’s a smart affair – the restaurant has been recently remodelled, but still comes with the kind of waiters who place your napkin on your lap for you when you sit down, and the kind of bill that might make you forgo your Uber home. Nevertheless, if you’re attempting to impress a boyfriend, parent or – in our case – a younger sibling, it works a treat. (Just make sure they don’t spot the tomato sauce spillage.)