Now, this was a lunch that I was really looking forward to. Way back in September, the kitchen boy had booked a table here for my birthday but owing to an unfortunate series of events we had to cancel. So, with another booking finally secured, I was quite excited, as I’ve long been a fan of the chef patron, Francesco Mazzei.
The day of our lunch was a warm and sultry August Friday, and when we arrived it was very tempting to ask if we could be seated on the balcony that ran along the outer length of the restaurant; so rare to have nice outdoor seating in central London. The bar area at the front of the restaurant was pretty quiet, owing to our early arrival, and looked so elegant and inviting that the offer of an aperitif here was too hard to turn down. And it really is a beautiful restaurant; the slick elegance is tempered with homely, rustic touches that remind you of the importance of what you are about to eat.
After a couple of drinks, namely Bellinis and Aperol spritz, we made it to our table and perused the menu, ably assisted by various members of staff. And at this point I should mention that the staff are part of what made this meal so memorable; some really interesting characters, who make you feel they are passionate about what they are doing.
It was pretty hard to choose from the menu, as I wanted pretty much everything, but for our starter I chose the Battuto di Manzo Scozzese, which in English translates as Black Angus beef tartare with pickled truffles and anchovies, while the kitchen boy went for the Burrata d’Andria. This was Burrata, the creamy centre of a mozzarella, with Torpedino tomatoes, smoked aubergine and basil. I can’t really say more than that they were both quite delicious and left us even more expectant of what our main course could offer.
For my main, I opted for the special of the day which was skate wing rolled and stuffed with a prawn and courgette mousse, served in a bisque with prawns and clams. Kitchen boy chose the Tagliata, a classic Italian dish of rare beef sliced and served with rocket and parmesan. The skate was fabulous, a voluptuous dish of perfectly cooked fish complimented by a delicate mousse and a gorgeous, rich bisque. The tagliata was juicy Black Angus beef that did exactly what it said on the tin. Both our dishes were crowned by a towering pile of Zucchine Fritte, fried courgette shoe string fries, that we ordered as an accompaniment. A truly satisfying meal so far and all the better for the very nice bottle of Orvieto that we drank with it.
As we were looking at the dessert menu I received an emergency phone call and we had to leave in rather a hurry. However, I can assure you that both the phone call and our lack of dessert were resolved to a happy conclusion, and although I cannot comment on the dessert menu, it did all look rather good.
I can’t wait to go back to Sartoria; it was very memorable, the fine dining end of Italian cuisine that would be the perfect place to go to for a celebration or special occaision without being uncomfortably formal.