Overall: 4/10

The open kitchen, Palatino, London

Palatino is a new, Roman inspired eatery by Stevie Parle in the heart of Clerkenwell. I visited during their soft launch last week with high hopes, after all, Parle has an excellent reputation in the industry. However, the food was slightly disappointing and not up there with the best Italian finds in London. There are SO many amazing Italian’s around at the moment, Cicchetti and Padella, to name a few. So the competition is fierce.

The Pear and Radicchio salad

The flavours in every dish sounded exotic and revolutionary on paper (fried sage for example, could this revived traditional Italian dish be the new zucchini fry?) but in practice, most didn’t really work. The deep fried sage mostly tasted like deep fried batter, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think it’ll be replacing the zucchini fry any time soon. The polenta and fried gnocchi also had a strange aftertaste. 

Deep fried sage

The quality of the ingredients cannot be denied, for example the pasta is made fresh and tastes like it. The cacio e Pepe was the highlight. Plus the dishes are elegantly presented, but there’s a case of style over substance here.

Cacio e Pepe

Another highlight was the faro, beans, chard and porcini soup. This an example of the kitchen’s experimentation done right. It was basically a thick warming lentil soup with hints of mushroom, perfect for what was definitely one of coldest days of the year when I visited.

Faro, beans, chard and porcini soup

On the plus side, the interior itself has a lovely elegant vibe, encompassing Parle’s belief that dining out should not be solely based on the food itself, and the room design and attitude of the staff are equally important. The open kitchen makes the place appear warm and welcoming (and also makes you a little bit hungry!) The restaurant has everything in place to be successful – extremely friendly and welcoming staff, a great atmosphere and decor, and a team of talented chefs serving high quality ingredients, but they haven’t quite nailed their flavour combinations. Hopefully this will improve after their soft launch!

Deep fried gnocchi

Address: 71 Central Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3AG

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