"Orsos has retained it unfussy, down to earth approach to traditional Italian food"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
Many years ago, when I worked in Covent Garden, this used to be one of my favourite restaurants. Despite its underground location and public loo-like décor (the white tiled walls), I loved the rugged rustic Italian food and style. I would go there for business lunches and dinners, and I even had the occasional celebratory event with my best friends there.
So it was with some trepidation that I returned last night with a dear friend who was once a client. I was hoping that it was still as good as I remembered.
At first I thought the décor had changed – I didn’t remember the peach coloured walls at the front and nor did I remember the black and white photos all over the walls. Nice. But when the waiter steered us to a table at the back I saw those white wall tiles and it all felt familiar.
Now, I have to say that the décor was a little tired – those lamp shades looked weary but it felt warmer and more relaxed than I remembered. The wooden floors and plain tables (white tablecloths) and chairs were unfussy. The waiting staff were less distant too – and efficient while remaining relaxed and personable.
We ordered a bottle of Verdicchio – not the cheapest wine at £42 but well worth it. The tap water arrived in a cute little glass jug with cleverly folded edges.
And onto the food. My beef carpaccio (£10.50) was a generous portion with ample parmesan whilst my colleague’s grilled tiger prawns with chilli and garlic (£9.50) arrived with a small mountain of cucumber at the side. Nice. Have to comment on the flatware too – bold brush strokes of bright colours. Good that the rustic theme remains.
My friend indulged himself with the pork (£15.50) which arrived in two perfect cubes with practically perfect crackling on top, apple sauce and some roast potatoes. Meanwhile, I tackled the crab linguine (£14.95) with roasted cherry tomatoes which was surprisingly flavoursome.
As it was our annual “Not Valentine” dinner (last year we went to Le Caprice the day after) we allowed ourselves some desserts. I went for the flour-free chocolate torte (£6.50) – pure heaven on a plate. And my friend faced an enormous portion of torte susine (£8.50).
And like it’s sister restaurant (Joe Allen) round the corner, this used to be a place to spot minor celebrities. And last night we spied Alastair Darling – I guess politicians count as slebs these days.
The total bill came to £122.57 which included £13.62 service.
The upside of a daylight-free, subterranean restaurant is that you have to know where to find the place so whilst it was busy it wasn’t crazy-Covent Garden crush. And I’m so pleased that it has retained it unfussy, down to earth approach to traditional Italian food cooked simply but well using seasonal ingredients. I will probably restore it to one of my favourite and regular Covent Garden venues.
They do some good pre-theatre deals (£17 for two courses and £19 for three) and have other set menus.
KimT reviewed Orso on Fri 15 Feb 2013