Finding fine dining restaurants in London is not as easy as it used to be. White starched tablecloths and hushed rooms have been swapped for wipe-down table tops and crammed canteens, serving upmarket fast food and street food. And while we’re not knocking a well-cooked burger, there’s nothing better than being properly wined and dined. I took a trip to Bacco in Holborn to enjoy some cooking of the highest calibre…
Bacco is an upmarket Italian restaurant, just a short walk from either Holborn or Chancery Lane Tube on Red Lion Street. First impressions are great: the glass frontage is immaculately clean and decorated with hanging baskets filled with pink flowers; inside, the room is just as appealing, with oak floorboards, pretty plants and paintings dotted around and a large Julius Caesar mural. It’s a lovely romantic setting, but there are also some larger tables filled with businessmen enjoying scotch and a cheese board, and a private dining room downstairs hosting a company dinner. There’s also a lovely wine terrace for when the sun’s out.
We’re immediately greeted by friendly waiter Stephano, who takes our coats and shows us to our seat next to the window. The barmen smile as we walk in, and another waitress comes and tops up our glasses with water.
Stephano talks us through the menu in a lovely honest and friendly way. Though the menu isn’t daunting, we were glad of his recommendations and decided to start with the flan of cardoon with organic egg yolk, 40 month old parmigiano and black truffle and the roasted squid and sautéed mussels with warm check pea, red chicory and olives.
We enjoyed a beautifully crisp glass of prosecco as we waited for our starters, and nibbled on some complimentary crudités which were delicious dipped in anchovy oil and balsamic vinegar. The starters were quick to arrive, and were presented with finesse and precision. The 40 month old parmigiano cheese melted in the mouth and was the perfect complement to the truffles and flan of cardoon, and the squid and mussels were beautifully fresh (picture below).
We took Stephano’s advice on mains too, and went for the smoked sea trout tilled in sesame and poppy seeds crust (picture below), and the lamb cutlet in a potato and pine nut crust with braised saddle and sweetbread. The sea trout was so plump and fresh it resembled a juicy salmon fillet, and was wonderfully colourful accompanied with bright green Brussel sprouts, Romanesco broccoli and Jerusalem artichokes. The lamb fell off the bone, and came with crispy belly and seasonal roots which were cooked to perfection.
The quality of the ingredients shine; Bacco insist on free-range meats, line-caught fish and fresh, organic vegetables. They bake their own breads every morning, as well as making their own pasta, and only serve locally-sourced ingredients, or those specially imported from Italy.
Though we were suitably full, Stephano insisted we tried their orange cake, which he described as cheesecake meets panna cotta. It was so light and delicious we wished we had ordered one each, and we washed it down with a Baileys coffee (which was lovingly handmade by Stephano). We left with full tummies and some fantastic Instagram snaps; the food here really is as good as it looks.
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