Pescatori – a Fishy Tale:
My occasional dining companion, The-Hedonist, can find himself in deep water sometimes. A pescatorian food writer is marginally better than a vegan, but it does limit review options at times. Instinct stops me inviting him when the menu is heavily carnivorous, even if there are a few fishy options simply because it forces me into a hard-core meat eating corner that isn’t always where I want to be. However, there are occasions when the menu is spot-on perfect, as is the case with Pescatori.
The Dover Street branch of Pescatori is at the Green Park end of the street, a discreet establishment that I’ve managed to walk past a million times without noticing. Inside it is charming. There’s an Italian feel but, something quite English too about the panelled wood walls and comfy upholstered seating. Light and airy, on a mid-week lunchtime it was busy but not to the point of feeling crowded.
The menu is a fishy affair, with a whole range of raw shellfish in addition to the cooked fish dishes (hot and cold). For those who really don’t want to eat fish, there’s a small meat section and a couple of vegetarian options. But why would anyone dine here who didn’t want to enjoy the fish?
After a glass of prosecco and some stunning queen olives, I went on to order the degustazione platter, a mixture of shellfish comprising 3 jersey rock oysters, 2 scampi and 2 west coast razor clams listed as ‘ceviche’, so cured in some lemon juice. It would have been hard to go wrong with that kind of dish, I particularly enjoyed the oysters but I suspect the best elements of the platter will be whatever is freshest.
We ordered a bottle of Sardinian wine, Vermentino Villa Solais Santadi, which is priced quite reasonably at £31 a bottle. It’s an aromatic full bodied white that worked particularly well with the main courses, where we’d both picked rather hearty winter dishes.
My companion ordered a more unusual dish, sardine saor, Cornish sardines in a Venetian marinade with white onions, sultanas, bay leaf and caper berries. Very delicious it reminded me of a Portuguese escabeche with a sweet-sour sauce that worked very well with the oily sardines.
For the main course, my Hake stuffed with Stornoway black pudding was delicious and unusual. The black pudding was melting and tender and contrasted perfectly with the fresh hake. Served with a few new potatoes and a cream and white wine sauce, this could have been a stodgy dish cooked badly, but here it was light and nicely balanced.
Seppie in umido chosen by The-Hedonist looked particularly Italianate to me. A rich tomato based sauce with a generous portion of cuttlefish served on a bed of polenta, hearty winter fare that probably would have defeated me!
On to dessert, I thoroughly enjoyed my ciliege & mandorle cherry & almond torte with mascarpone ice cream – the ice cream was rich enough even for me and the torte was really quite like a bakewell tart with a generous helping of cherries. Not a soggy bottom in sight either.
The Hedonist picked a daintier little number in the form of caramello & cioccolato – chocolate pot with soft caramel & amaretti biscuits which was obviously excellent as I didn’t get a taste!
For the most part starters are around £8-£10, although my degustazione platter is a little more expensive at £18.50. Main courses are priced from £13 up to £40 for a whole lobster and there’s a small but interesting sharing section which includes a lobster spaghettini, fritto misto and a wonderful sounding seafood flatter with oysters, lobster, mussels, clams, razor clams, langoustine and prawns.
An excellent venue for lunch, the service was fast and unobtrusive and the food beautifully cooked and presented. There’s nothing too challenging here if you like Italian style fish, and prices are reasonable for the location.
11 Dover Street,
London W1S 4LH