Enoteca da Luca Old Street, review: ‘Food whisks you away to Tuscany’
PUBLISHED: 12:05 28 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:05 28 June 2016
The middle of a new corporate development just steps away from the traffic-clogged Old Street Roundabout is as far removed from Tuscany’s olive groves and undulating landscape as you can get – but the dishes served up at this branch of Enoteca da Luca immediately whisk you away to those sun-drenched valleys.
Having visited Tuscany only two months ago, I was longing to taste the food of that beautiful Italian region again and had high hopes for a restaurant called ‘Enoteca’ - Italian for shops selling wine and fresh produce.
This is the fifth branch of a small chain, most of which are in the City, and the décor is more sleek City chic than rustic Tuscan charm.
But the food definitely hails from Italy, and I started with my favourite cheese, burrata, a creamier version of mozzerella, served with lightly roasted tomatoes bursting with flavour, black olive croutons for some welcome texture, and an unusual basil sorbet, which was a lovely contrast to the other warm ingredients.
My guest’s beef tartare was perfectly seasoned and the egg yolk on top added a necessary richness to the plate.
The chain’s ethos is “piccolo e bello” – small and beautiful – and this is reflected in the menu.
Rather than dividing into starters, mains and desserts, there are small and larger dishes to choose from, from platters of cheese and cold meats, to pasta dishes and traditional main meat courses.
It’s all very Tuscan.
We stick to tradition, though, and both choose main courses of fish.
My stone seabass is delicate and the saffron, clams, courgettes, peppers and olives adds interest without overwhelming the flavour of the dish. His seafood risotto tastes rich and of the sea, swimming in a moreish bisque.
My dessert is the real star of the night though and a fun way to finish the meal: an oozing blackberry doughtnut served with tangy yoghurt to counterbalance the sweetness and home-made vanilla ice cream.
My guest also enjoys cracking his white chocolate sphere, but the delight is more in the spectacle than the eating.
It might not be an enoteca in the traditional sense, but it’s worth navigating the sea of office blocks to find this outpost of Italian treats.