Lunch at 21 Covent Garden:
It’s May. Spring should be well and truly in the air. Actually, it’s raining and we are quite grateful to be heading down into the cosy vaulted basement restaurant of 21. Although if the weather had been just a little more clement we could have eaten sitting out on the terrace. With no ‘natural’ sunshine we indulge in pre-lunch cocktails, in my case a taryntini, which was a heady mixture of Absolut vodka served with an elegant mix of Aperol, Merlet peach liqueur and fresh raspberries.
Meanwhile we ordered. The menu at 21 is mostly made up of an accessible mixture of pizzas and pasta. There are sharing platters and salads if you don’t want a full meal. And there’s a small selection of ‘secondi’ – rather more formal main courses.
I ordered the black pepper calamari with saffron aioli for my starter, my companion picked the arancini with gorgonzola, pumpkin and sage.
The calamari was good. Nicely cooked with a strong garlic and saffron infused mayonnaise.
Arancini looked excellent, though tiny, there were three which made for a reasonable sized starter. My companion told me that the filling was a well balanced mixture of gorgonzola, sage and pumpkin mixed with the rice.
For his main dish my companion picked the house special pizza, Figaro which is topped with mozzarella, Milano salami, Parma ham, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese, red onion, black olives, oregano & roasted garlic olive oil. It looked special – and apparently tasted as good as it looked.
My choice of monkfish cooked in a paper bag was rather less successful, just a little overcooked for my taste, the fish had lost that firm texture that is unique to monkfish. But, nevertheless the dish was very tasty with baby leeks, rosemary and broccoli.
Profiteroles were the perfect way to finish the meal. And, we left feeling that while this wasn’t a overwhelmingly spectacular food event, it WAS very pleasant, good food at a reasonable price in an area where mediocre meals and overpricing are common.
Somewhere to meet friends, to share a meal and a bottle of wine. Somewhere you can eat well without an overdraft at the end of the month (main courses are mostly under £15 and a bottle of house wine will set you back just under £17). I’ll be back because this is a comfortable place to enjoy good food without having to feel overwhelmed or concerned by the price.
21 The Market
London WC2E 8RD