Spuntino

8 Jun

I was very excited when Spuntino opened. From the moment they first opened their doors, blogs were being updated left, right and centre filled with glowing reports and tantalising photos. One look at the truffled egg toast and I knew I had to go. So when Mark and I were walking around aimlessly after our three course meal at Alain Ducasse, there was only one thing on my mind – dinner at Spuntino. All it took was a three-hour stroll around Soho to marginally open the hunger gates and before we knew it we were waiting patiently for a table. In all honesty I wasn’t that hungry, but when the opportunity is there at the end of an hours wait for a seat, one would be foolish not to sit down.

Spuntino takes no reservations and seats are few so the only way to secure a bite is to wait for as long as it takes. I spent most of my teen years obsessing over the Lord of the Rings which often involved standing around for hours in the cold to catch a glimpse of the cast, so an estimated hour and a half wait meant nothing to me. Luckily for us, some people do not posses the same gift of patience as I and they left within minutes bringing us closer to the front of the queue. Before we knew it (20 minutes later) we were sat at the bar with a complimentary portion of eggplant chips with fennel yoghurt! I don’t even like aubergine, but there I was, devouring the lot. Forever a fan of the amuse bouche/canapés/extra free food, it couldn’t get much better than this.

Our stomachs ordered us not to push our luck so we ordered a modest four dishes. Food arrived thick and fast and our small bar space was soon taken over by plates of wonderful looking American tapas.

The Truffled Egg Toast was the first to catch my eye – cheese dripping off the side of the bread, the circle of yolk in the middle like the sun, radiating rich smells of truffle oil. I could taste it and experience the textures before I had even tried it.As reality would have it, it was a bit cold. And because of this it was all a bit chewy. The cheese had lost its ooze and the toast was not as much crisp as it was soggy. The sacred ceremony of cutting into the yolk had a rather poor result as only a few drops of orange dripped onto the plate. I have a feeling I caught this particular dish on a bad day, so I do not want to write it off as something not worth trying. Go for it, I might do so again one day.

Much more successful was the Softshell Crab with Aioli. I could eat anything dipped in aioli, a stapler for example, but it really is something special when the dippee is perfectly tasty without said garlicky magic. The flavours were fresh, making the whole dish incredibly easy to eat.

The beef and bone marrow slider was another winner. Small brioche bun, rich and almost creamy meat, the compulsory layer of melted cheese… I could have done with a big version of this, unfortunately sharing with the other half meant that I only had two bites.

Though our order was relatively small, my painfully swollen belly cursed my masochistic appetite, but I was not done yet. “Thinking of having a pudding? There is no thinking to do – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich” the waiter told us. My appetite was charmed by his wit and before my belly could clog on to what I was doing, I had taken his advice. And what advice that was.

Two layers of peanut butter parfait cemented together with raspberry coulis and topped with crumbs of sugared peanut. I don’t think I have ever eaten anything with as perfect a combination of flavours and textures than this dessert. The parfait was both salty and sweet as well as creamy on the tongue, and the coulis sliced through with zingy fruit pang and sticky finish, not forgetting the surprise crunch from the scattered peanut brittle. Though bursting at the seams, my stomach forgave me.

This would usually be the point where I would conclude my blog entry with a few pithy sentences about the great time I had. However, I found myself a few weeks later wandering through Soho after a Wayne’s World shwing-along desperately looking for a bite to eat. All that head banging and air guitaring unearthed my masochistic appetite, and like a magnet I was drawn back to Spuntino with the idea of ordering completely different dishes but to end with the same sublime pud. And so my adventure continues.

Complimentary cup of popcorn covered in chilli oil started us off this time. Bit greasy and not as exciting or substantial as the eggplant chips, but it was in my brief of eating only the untried. Our first plate was another dabble with egg, this time in the form of a sesame crusted egg with toast. A boiled egg and soldiers is a classic for a reason, though Spuntino’s version wasn’t much more than that. If even I can make it at home, I don’t think it is worth spending money on.

Our slider of the day was salt beef with gherkin. There was a lot of meat and a good layer of schnoz burning English mustard. Nice, but nothing beats Gabby’s in Leicester Square for salted cow.

No, the real winners of this round were the steak with eggs coupled with shoe string fries. This, my friend, tops the PB&J Sandwich.

“I am not sure why this is so good, but it is” Mark said. I am not sure either, how something so simple can be so delicious. I used the shoe string fries to dip in the runny yolk and then to mop up the remaining meaty juices once I had finished. I know that I am going to return to Spuntino many times over so that I can scream “BINGO” once I have tried every single dish, but I also know that I will not be able to resist ordering this every single time.

We had a bowl of grits on the side which Mark rejected after a couple of mouthfuls, but I finished the lot, finding the texture utterly comforting that only a cuddle with my old teddy bear could inspire. I wouldn’t mind ordering that again too.

Of course we finished with the dessert we planned to finish with and of course we enjoyed it. I might order the liquorice ice cream with pineapple carpaccio next time instead. I will probably not enjoy it as much, but you live and learn. And if I am to live and learn I may as well do it at Spuntino.

 

Spuntino
61 Rupert Street, London, W1D 7PW
http://www.spuntino.co.uk/
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2 Responses to “Spuntino”

  1. Jess White June 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    oh my, that peanut butter and jam things sounds uh-mazing. i can only imagine…

  2. Laura Cushing-Harries April 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I think our cheese grits moment needs to be added to this entry- easy textures and cheese… why hasn’t it been mentioned already?!

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