"The restaurant, the atmosphere and the food were..enchanting, memorable and beguiling"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
A rather special friend invited me to dinner and he asked me what type of food I liked best. Whilst I enjoy just about every type of food, Italian remains my favourite. So I was overjoyed when he told me that he had made a reservation at Clos Maggiore on King Street in Covent Garden – as so many people had recommended it to me and I was desperate to see if it was as good as its reviews. I tried not to dwell on the fact that it is listed as one of London’s most romantic restaurants….
Anyway, we were kept waiting a short while in a small enclosed area at the front of the restaurant when we arrived. It felt a bit like one of those take away places although the décor was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t have time to finish admiring all the flowers and ornaments (including a sculpture of a pig with wings – I was trying not to think “And pigs might fly….”) when we were taken to our table which was deep inside the deceptively large interior but rather close to a rather busy aisle. The lighting was intimate to the point of dangerous and I could just about spot some other couples at the surrounding tables. I can’t remember whether there was music playing – I was enjoying my conversation very much, so it’s a good place to go if you have a lot of talking to do.
Expecting an Italian waiter, I was surprised at the American accent of the smart, young waiter who presented us with the food menus and an impossibly large (50 pages?) wine menu. My colleague choose the wine we had – which was superb – based on a poem about Campagna by Robert Browning of which he is particularly fond.
I tore my eyes away from the green garlands bedecking the walls and creeping down the door posts to study the menu and make my selections. There were so many fabulous sounding foods I was in danger of coming across as an indecisive girl.
For starter I choose Hand picked Devon crab and marjoram with provencal artichoke, gem lettuce and smoked anchovies (£11.50). This was a work of art – a tiny masterpiece – I can’t imagine how long the chef took to create that small cube of crab heaven and the accompaniments were like mouthfuls of sea air in a country garden. Astonishing. You understand the idea of savouring your food when it is this beautifully prepared and presented like this – no matter how hungry you are. I was so wrapped up in my food that I hardly noticed my companion’s roasted stuffed morel (a type of fungi) and corn fed chicken wing with lamb cress and walnut vinaigrette (£11.20). But he remarked that it was very good.
We both selected items from the vegetarian menu for our mains – although neither of us is averse to eating meat and there were plenty of choices on the menu. But when the mood calls for pasta…
He choose hand rolled tagliatelle witih seasonal wild mushroom and reggiano parmesan (£17.90) which he seemed to enjoy tremendously. I was in raptures with my goat cheese curd Gnocchi and new season green asparagus, leek fondue and marc du Gewurztraminer sauce (£17.50). Again, each taste was a thrill of flavours and the way in which the asparagus were latticed on the side was an architectural triumph. The food really is something else here and I most definitely will return.
And as I was supposed to be concentrating on talking to my friend (I did, honest!) I didn’t take notes as I usually do when reviewing somewhere. But the restaurant, the atmosphere and the food were so enchanting, memorable and beguiling that I suspect the details are burned into my memory forever. And who says you can’t mix business with pleasure? And my sincere thanks to the gentleman who took me there.
KimT reviewed Maggiore's on Thu 28 Apr 2011