July 11, 2011


For my birthday this year Dave took me to Semplice, an Italian restaurant in Mayfair off New Bond Street. The decor is nice and modern but the layout of the restaurant and the position of our table made the place feel dull and uninviting.

It was a slow start as we had to wait for drinks but we were much happier once we opened the menu and found lots of tasty sounding options including lots of produce from Piedmont, my favourite food and wine region in Italy. It was a tough choice in the end and but we were not disappointed with our selections.

We both had pasta to start: a buffallo mozarella gnocchi with scampi and asparagus was much lighter than expected and extremely tasty with the sweetness of scampi and asparagus working wonders with the smooth cheese based gnocchi. Dave's trofi pasta with lobster was also tasty albeit a stronger flavour than my gnocchi; both an excellent start accompanied with a lovely caraffe of Gavi de Gavi.

For mains I had the roast milk-fed Piedmontese veal with shitake, courgettes and olive sauce; it was very good and classically simple. However the winner was Dave's sirloin of Fassano beef (from a rare breed of cattle in Piedmont). The tender steak was cooked to perfection, juicy with loads of flavour. And it went perfectly with a caraffe of Barbaresco wine.

Given the quality of the food so far, we couldn't go past dessert and it was my birthday afterall! My beautifully presented coffee tiramisu (made with Giovanni Erbisti coffee) and tiramisu ice-cream was delicious and rivalled Dave's chocloate fondant which was a perfect size, well balanced and not too sweet. Dave's expresso made with Giamaica Afribon coffee beans (by Erbisti) topped the Italian experience nicely.

You cannot fault the food at Semplice but the dining experience itself was disappointing: the restaurant atmosphere suits a corporate meal rather than for a couple or family. And whilst service is professional, it lacked personality or warmth, much like the restaurant as a whole. Your meal at Semplice will be memorable but the dining experience won't be.

What: Semplice
Where: 9/10 Blenheim St, London W1S 1LJ
How much: Starters/Pasta average £14, Mains £29

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