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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

London Restaurant Reviews – Spuntino

It was with some reservation that I accepted
Natasha’s invitation for an early dinner at Spuntino. The rather underwhelming meal I had at its sister restaurant Polpo the year before (reviewed here) was partially to blame, as was the incredible hype surrounding the place. In this age of style over substance, I was ready to dislike Spuntino, and so with mixed feelings made my way to Soho to meet her.

The restaurant has a discreet entrance, and I nearly missed it among the many other businesses on Rupert Street. It is tiny, sitting up to 26 people, mostly around a central bar on high stools. The décor, reminiscent of an American walk-in diner, is novel and very stylish – it has a distressed chic look about it with industrial lighting and fittings, exposed brickwork and tiled walls.

We got to the restaurant at 6pm, and the place was not yet full. It didn’t take long for all the places to be taken, and as the restaurant takes no bookings, within 30 minutes, there was a large queue of hungry diners waiting for a place. Seats are very close together, so much so that I accidentally started eating the stuffed olives of the couple sitting next to us!

The menu, which doubles up as a place mat, is short and lists a selection of “small plates” classed as spuntini (snacks), sliders (starter-sized burgers), salads, plates and sides. Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, founders of sister restaurants Polpo and Polpetto, describe Spuntino’s menu as “hang over food”, and looking at some of the items on the menu like mac & cheese, truffled egg toast, burgers, and steak and eggs, I could see what they mean.

While we were making our choices, we were offered some complimentary popcorn, a spicy chilli version, which was a nice touch. There is a popcorn machine behind the bar, and the smell of freshly popped corn wafts through the room. Natasha and I started with a portion of Stuffed Fried Olives @ £4.  These were delicious, coated in breadcrumbs, stuffed with anchovies and deep fried.

Next we shared a "Brick Lane Salt Beef Slider" (a mini burger) with dill pickle and Colman’s @ £4.50. The 24 hour bakery at the North end of Brick Lane is a favourite of mine for the early hours of the morning whenever I find myself in the area.  I enjoyed the Spuntino version, despite the tiny portion, and thought it was a nice touch to feature such a London classic on its American menu.

The "Small Baby Gem Salad" with soft egg and creamed cod dressing @ £6 was again excellent. The creamed cod dressing (a type of French brandade) was light and not overpoweringly fishy, made wholesome by the addition of soft egg.

The star of the evening in my opinion, however, was the "Truffled Egg Toast" @ £5.50 – a soft runny egg is cooked in the centre of fluffy white bread within a layer of melting Fontina cheese,  infused with truffle oil. Rich and comforting and definitely not a dieting dish, but worth every calorie.

The "Spicy Sausage, Lentil and Radicchio" @ £7 was a rustic, flavoursome dish and went well with the 250ml glass of 09 Primitivo “Fiore” @ £8.50. Wines are served in tumblers, which in my opinion, does not help to show them to their full potential.

The "Eggplant Chips" @ £4 had a crisply fried exterior and were covered with sesame seeds and served with a fennel yoghurt dip.

To finish off the meal, we shared the "Brown Sugar Cheesecake" served with Grappa prunes @ £6. This was light, while the grappa prunes added a delicious bitter sweet flavour.

I enjoyed having my prejudices challenged in this way, and despite my initial reservations and all the hype, I was really pleased to find that Spuntino serves excellent quality food in a great setting, right in the heart of Soho.

Cost: £61.31 for seven dishes and including drinks.

Likes: Small plates of delicious comfort food, the truffled egg toast was fantastic as were the deep-fried olives and eggplant chips.

Dislikes: Glass tumblers for wine do not do anything for me, seats are too close together, and no booking system can mean hours of waiting.

Verdict: Great Soho spot serving great comfort/hangover food. Friendly and knowledgeable staff, trendy decor. Cannot wait to return. Highly recommended.

**Apologies for the quality of the images as these were taken from my iPhone**

Spuntino on Urbanspoon


  1. wow! you FINALLY made it! congrats-yes i love the place. although can at times be pretentious still good old diner food.

  2. My favourite of the whole lot. Just like you I wasn't too keen on Polpo and didn't even bother trying Polpetto. Spuntino however might just be worth the hype. Just such a shame about the waiting, I am just not British enough the queue for longer than 10 minutes.

  3. Food and drink manufacturing sector is the second in London. It is also the manufacturing sector, which achieves the best results in the capital during the past five years. West London Business shows that 10 percent of all jobs in London are linked to food and beverages in a way.

    A survey of the cartography of the food in the capital and beverage industry funded by the European Union, there are 870 companies in the food in London and drink supply chain with a total turnover estimated at £ 3 , 3 billion. The same research also suggested that 94 percent of companies in this sector are SMEs with a turnover of less than 1 million pounds each.

  4. My mouth is watering just thinking about the truffled egg toast. Do you think it's possible to replicate at home?

  5. Ah, Spuntino. Blogger heaven, it seams. I think this place might be the jewel in Russell Norman's crown, though I have yet to try it. Spectacularly heart-stopping comfort food is a weakness of mine.

  6. Well, not the leader of the pack, me. Will finally head, then. I was kind of avoiding the gimmicky hype, but it seems nice. Still, cant bring myself to really desire the food...

  7. Nice, glad you made it as we didnt. Guess have to try again! Or maybe, Da Polpo as it's much easier from my place!

  8. Great review (as usual!) I must say, although I am dying to try the food, the no bookings policy and the crowded jostling is a little off-putting 9clearly I am getting old!!) Also - looooooook, there's my ex neighbour again! This is the second time I've seen Ahmed (next door to whom I lived for 9 years) behind the bar in blog pics featuring Spuntino!

  9. I have been looking looking around for this kind of information. Will you post some more in future? I'll be grateful if you will.


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