Bernardi’s, London

I was invited to dinner at Bernardi’s whilst on a work trip to London last week – handily it was just a 5 minute walk from our home for the night, The Grazing Goat. Unbeknownst to me when booking our room, The Grazing Goat is part of the Cubitt House group, co-founded by the owners of Bernardi’s! They had obviously won me over with their online presence but how would their food fare?

First appearances were good – as I approached the Italian restaurant on Seymour Street, it exuded class and understated glamour, and I was excited to see what was inside…

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We visited at 6:30pm on a Wednesday and although quiet when we were seated, the restaurant soon filled up giving it a great buzzing atmosphere

The interior of the restaurant is stunning and feels really luxurious – the gold & marble accents throughout made me fall in love with the space straight away! It was also refreshing to have loads of room around our table (and the table itself was huge!) You didn’t feel like you were squashed up against the diners next to you, close enough to hear each other’s conversations as is sometimes the case

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We began with an aperitif – I chose a gin & tonic garnished with cucumber and rose buds which was lovely and fragrant. A bottle of the 2014 Gavi di Gavi, La Chiara 35 Piedmont was ordered for the table and was a great selection – light enough to compliment the starter I’d chosen but still able to hold it’s own with my main

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There were so many beautiful sounding dishes on the menu that I really struggled to narrow it down – luckily my dining companions promised me a taste of theirs which definitely helped!

For my starter I finally settled on the market fish crudo – a bright plate of delicately sliced raw white fish, salmon & prawns topped with radish, chilli & basil leaves. This dish was incredibly fresh and allowed the flavours of each element to shine through. My favourite was definitely the prawn (in the centre of the picture below, topped with chilli), which was wonderfully sweet. As nothing on the plate was cooked, it was so light and the crunch from the radish added a nice texture, whilst the chilli gave a good hit of spice

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Mains-wise it was a close competition between the rabbit loin and the veal ragu – the veal won by a narrow margin and I was pleased with my choice when it arrived. Triangles of fresh maltagliati pasta were encased in a ragu thats flavour was a lot deeper and richer than its appearance suggested. Not heavy by any means, it was laced with plenty of rosemary and mascarpone and the veal was tender and juicy. The dish felt perfect for the time of year – hearty enough for the end of winter and light enough for the beginning of spring

The person sat next to me ordered the rabbit and allowed me to try it – I was very impressed by the depth of flavour and moistness of the meat, complimented well by the tarragon

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A portion of the potato fritti with parmesan & garlic were ordered to share and were so moreish! Punchy garlic & salty parmesan meant I couldn’t keep away from the crispy little bites

It would have been rude to pass up on dessert and the nougat semifreddo was the obvious choice. Paired with a glass of the golden honey-like 2014 ‘Pass the cookies’ Verduzzo, Di Lenardo, Veneto dessert wine and topped with stewed rhubard and pomegranate seeds, the semifreddo was divine! Sweet and creamy, and not frozen solid meaning you could easily cut through it with your spoon – little pockets of nougat came through as it melted on your tongue, delicious!

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I left feeling suitably full but still with enough room to enjoy a few more drinks. It was a shame not to have visited Bernardi’s basement bar ‘The Dog House’ as it intrigued me greatly! I’d also love to sit outside on a warm summer’s evening and watch the world go by…

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We were all suitably impressed with Bernardi’s – in fact the person who invited us was dining there 3 times that week!

I wouldn’t hesitate to return and would love to take the husband there next time we’re in London – he’d definitely enjoy a meal and a glass of wine on that terrace!

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