Review – Iddu Sicilian Cafe – South Kensington:
Having recently been treated to a rather wonderful wine lunch at the South Kensington Club, I was curious to find out about the cafe/restaurant which is also owned by Luca del Bono but is open to everyone. With a few tables opening out onto the street, it looks for all the world as if it could be somewhere in the Med, at least when the sun decides to shine. Inside it is cosy and informal. The sort of place I’d meet up with friends for lunch or a coffee. An incontro – a meeting place. And one which, as I found out, serves some rather good food too.
We ordered a selection of dishes – with olives and bread to nibble on while we waited.
And, these Sicilian Olives were actually rather good, with a light chilli marinade just bringing out the flavour.
A fresh burrata, served on a bed of parma ham was ALMOST as good as the burrata I tasted in Puglia last year. But, then a great burrata needs to be ultra fresh, ‘buttered’ with rich, farmhouse cream so that it has a shelf life of just a few days. At Iddu the burrata arrives twice a week, directly from Italy.
My order of octopus salad was delicious too, with soft and tender octopus, a light dressing and tiny new potatoes complimented by a scattering of salad leaves, capers and black olives.
Caponata was a more delicate dish than I remember from Sicily, beautifully presented and with a piquant rather than strident sweet-sour tomato sauce. I’m not sure either whether curly parsley has any place on dishes from the med.
I did have just a little food envy for the spaghetti dish with prawns and pesto which somehow seemed light and fragrant, despite the generous helping of pasta
And, the Salmon, Kensington style, was, as promised one of those very photogenic dishes that just happens to taste as good as it looks
A stunning raw artichoke salad was served with aged parmesan, ribbons of courgette and baby spinach leaves. I suspect the artichoke was marinaded in a light pickle – lemon or wine vinegar – before being dressed and served.
We ordered a couple of granitas as a kind of palate cleanser – but, what actually appeared was generous! The pistachio, a fragrant and somehow creamy ice was my favourite, though I’ve tried and loved the lemon granita before.
And then, since everything else had been so healthy…we capitulated.
The Iddu Cannoli is the closest to the version I tried (and failed) to make as part of a cookery course in Sicily and to the version that I actually ate at a later date in Syracuse. It’s a deep fried pastry tube that is filled with sieved, sweetened fresh ricotta and then garnished with whatever extras you dare. I can see myself coming back just for this and a cup of strong Italian coffee (though I can’t bring myself to drink expresso!)
So, here’s an excellent Incontra. Somewhere I’d be happy to meet my friends on a regular basis. If only I hadn’t moved from West Brompton!
44 Harrington Rd,
London SW7 3ND