One restaurant whose name kept cropping up in conversation when arranging where to meet friends for dinner in London was Luca, the second restaurant from the talented team behind the Clove Club, and so I was delighted to be able to finally visit with my friend Danielle before I returned to Yangon.
Their menu is described as serving “high quality seasonal ingredients from around the British isles with a focus on pasta …food that observes the traditions of Italian cooking, but breaks the rules a little” which sounds just perfect to me and I was excited for what lay ahead.
We had started with a portion of their famous ‘Parmesan Fries” (£4.50) to go alongside excellent martini’s in the bar, although to call them a “fry” is somewhat of an understatement. In reality, they are actually wonderfully fluffy cheesy churros, served dusted in spice and fine shavings of yet more cheese, and you would be doing yourself a real injustice not to order a portion of these to start your meal with!
Danielle decided to push the boat out by treating me to their decadent Prix Fixe menu (£65pp) which started with both the “Whipped Salty Cod, Peppers, Olives & Croutons” (on the ALC menu at £13) and “Spring Salad of Ricotta, Asparagus & Peas in Hazelnut Dressing” (£9 on the ALC) The brandade was excellent, somehow not as heavy as a French version, and the chargrilled peppers and the olives cut through it nicely, whilst the salad was a nice crisp, light summery starter.
For the pasta course we were served a beautifully vibrant “Spaghetti Quadrato with Pistachio & Pesto” (£11 on the ALC) which was definitely by far the best pasta I have eaten since last summer’s meal at Padella, and would be all you would need to make a trip to Luca worthwhile. Its worth pointing out here that they also have an excellent value lunch deal in the bar, which is available Monday – Friday 12-5pm, at £14 for pasta & a glass of wine which I would definitely return for!
I love trout but it is not something I’ve seen in Asia and so I was delighted by their “Cold Poached Wiltshire Trout, with Lettuce, Cucumber & Elderflower Salad Cream” (£23 on the ALC) which was a perfect summer dish, the kind of thing I’d love to imagine I would cook for dinner with friends, were I still living in the UK.
I’m not sure you can get more British than Roast Chicken and our main of “Yorkshire Chicken, Charred Leeks, Borlotti Beans & Romesco” was certainly evident of their approach to “British ingredients through an Italian lens”
Luca is both grand and impressive enough for a holding an important business meeting, or meeting the in-laws, yet retains a lovely intimacy which lends itself towards a romantic dinner, or simply catching up with great friends like I did! I would also be very tempted to stop there for a meal before going to the ballet or something at Saddlers Wells which is just a short walk/cab ride away.
Whilst its definitely easy to rack up a steep bill, you could eat lightly, or dine in the bar for a more budget friendly approach but it is certainly worth splashing out a bit when you are there as the quality of ingredients, cooking and wonderful service make it all the more worthwhile
88 St John St, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4EH, UK
Open Monday – Saturday 12-10:30pm