Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review: Spuntino

The London to-do list, part 2 of n

Three 3 oz mini burgers, or sliders, from Spuntino

Spuntino was another one of those places I'd read rave reviews about when I first moved to London, but their gimmicky website - which lists their address and nothing else in flickering text - did them no favours in terms of motivating me to visit. Minus half a point right there. I should also mention their stools-around-a-bar approach to seating: another reason I stayed away for a while. I use restaurant meals to catch up with friends and being perched around a bar doesn't offer the most effective setting.

The interior

However, a friend and I arrived here drenched to the bone after an unsuccessful attempt at checking out the Notting Hill Carnival. The day was far too wet to enjoy anything outdoors so Spuntino was my suggested back up plan. We walked in around lunchtime and found the space conveniently deserted. The guys at the bar were friendly and affable, and one quickly got us some popcorn and tap water as we dried off and decided what to order.

The menu as a placemat, cutlery and popcorn

The interior is definitely themed to dark and gloomy, with everything deliberately worn down, including the chipped tin service. Not overly gimmicky, as long as you're in the mood to humour them. And on this occasion I was, and even more so after I tasted the food they served us. Neither of us were particularly hungry so we ordered a mix of small dishes from the rather confusing menu. If you zoom into the picture above, you'll see snacks, sliders (or 3 oz burgers) and plates listed alongside the more mundane categories of salads and sides. Snacks and sliders I suppose are approximations for starters, whereas the plates are closer to mains. However, my personal opinion is that they're all snacks - so bear this in mind when ordering and also when considering the cost.

Buttermilk fried chicken

The first dish to arrive at the counter was the buttermilk fried chicken. It was excellent: warm and crunchy without the meat being too dry on the inside. The flavour from the batter I couldn't identify but I have definitely had before - perhaps it was from the buttermilk itself. Not something you'll ever find at KFC but for £5 for the portion above, its no wonder why.

Ground beef & bone marrow, cornflake chicken & honey mustard slaw,
prawn po boy

Next up were the three 3oz burgers, each with a different filling and rather expensive at £5 a pop. The first two - ground beef & bone marrow and cornflake chicken & honey mustard slaw - were pretty standard in terms of ingredients but very well executed. The prawn po boy was more interesting - three deep fried prawns with a flavour I distinctly remember from my childhood in Asia but not something I've come across since. I'm glad to have found it again, and kudos to Spuntino for putting it into one of their sliders. Good quality buns too, in all three cases.

Beef chilli dog with sour cream

Our final dish was the beef chilli dog, which under the plate category is the biggest portion size at Spuntino. In my opinion it's far too small to fill most people up, but for £8 its probably the closest you'll get to value for money here. Unfortunately it was also the weakest dish we had. The sausage was far too small for the massive bread roll, and while it tasted good it wasn't anything special. I know similar sausages can be had quite easily at North African markets in Paris and Madrid - which is why they were a regular feature at the family table while I was growing up. I'm sure they can be had quite easily in London as well, provided you do a bit of research before venturing out. 

The final dish really helped me encapsulate the experience at Spuntino. The venue serves lots of disparate flavours which brought together will impress people who may not be familiar with them. This is not at all a bad thing, especially given that each dish was very executed minus the "too small a sausage" issue with the hot dog. The high score for food below reflects this. There wasn't much service to be had given the simplicity of the venue, but the staff were happy to help out with descriptions of the food and what to order. But before making your way here, do remember that it is rather expensive, with the food in this review (which was a light lunch at best) costing £28 sans drinks and service. And before subjecting yourself to a long queue, remember that you will be sitting at stools around a bar.

Food: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 6.5/10
Value: 6/10

Final Score: 6.5/10

Contact Information
A: 61 Rupert Street, Soho, London, W1D 7PW
T: N/A

NB. The final score, while influenced by the sub-scores, is a qualitative reflection of my overall impression of the establishment.

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