107/112 Leadenhall Street, London EC3A 4DP.
This very upmarket and quite expensive Etrusca group flagship, caters for city types who think nothing of a two-hour leisurely lunch, at prices that would stretch even the luckiest of luncheon voucher recipients. Clearly popular, the place was still packed with City diners at 15:30.
The decor of the restaurant is bright and open with a clean fresh feel to it, certainly an environment for impressing senior clients. This is high quality Italian food served by a knowledgeable and friendly team in an atmosphere that is quite appropriate for City Financial power lunches, but relaxed enough to enjoy a casual, or romantic evening meal.
The lunch menu features two starters and main courses, which change every week, but is also complemented by an extensive selection of A la Carte items.
My starter, a mixed grain soup with smoked chicken, was deep green in color and delicious with a generous variety beans but might have been nicer with a little more chicken.
For the main course, I had grilled calve's liver with Italian bacon and Trevisana salad. Well presented with crispy Oregano sprigs flash fried in butter and a wonderful olive oil based glaze sauce, the liver was nicely cooked and tender. The succulent Zucchine Fritte, deep fried courgettes, made a nice change from pasta.
My companion had a starter of toasted ciabatta topped with sauteed queen scalops, red onions and anchovies and served with crispy onion rings. He highly recommends this substantial starter even as a main course, since he was still trying to finish it long after my soup had departed the bowl.
Though from Wales, the chef has had plenty of experience in Milan and the Tuscany area. This credential shows in several of his dishes including a superb Veal cutlet served on the bone, dipped in breadcrumbs and almond flour, shallow fried and served with chips and deep fried mushrooms. The fact that main courses could have been served a little hotter, does not detract from our assessment of them.
From the desert menu I chose a toffee and chocolate tartlet surrounded by a ring of coffee sauce with chocolate shavings. What more can I say, than the plate didn't need cleaning after I'd finished! My companion was impressed with the selection of homemade ice creams he finally chose from the extensive dessert menu. The desserts were complimented with a delightful Verduzzo, Il Roncat '95. The Verdozo grape gives this wine an unusual plummy bouquet that's not to be missed.
The staff advised us with pride that all the wines are Italian (except naturally for the Champagnes, which are French). We found the Greco di Tufo from Fuedo di San Gregorio vineyard a very pleasing dry wine.
If, 4 centuries on, Caravaggio were to dine at his namesake City of London restaurant, I feel sure that he would be impressed.
Wally Robertson, September 1999
Price for lunch for two with wine £80
Nearest tube: Bank