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No jostling and she’s for the chop.

No jostling and she’s for the chop.

Tuesday and I decide to mosey over to Bermondsey to have a gander at what’s hot and not. Tuesday is not a friend of mine who I moseyed with, rather that was an American grammatical affectation. Oh and a mosey, is like a saunter only mildly less jaunty. Bermondsey is an up and coming district in London’s South East quarter.

I’m planning a business in that general vicinity and heard its enjoying something of a renaissance so thought hey ho let’s give it a go and booked a table for two at Antico, a new and clean cut Italian affair with bare brick walls (well it must be good if it has bare walls) and a quote, unquote “uncomplicated menu” which is good because nothing makes for protracted dead air on a first date more than a boorishly lengthy menu; except of course for the time I quipped that seal clubbing was a hobby. Won’t do that again in a hurry.

Having navigated through the foothills of the mighty Shard, traversing some meandering viaducts and olde worlde streets, we were met at the door by three or it may have been four, identically dressed and equally smiling youngsters, all keen to greet and seat us; top marks so far. I had requested a corner table at the advice of a reviewer who noticed you get jostled in the centre spots, although being jostled in the centre spots is ironically not a bad thing once you get used to it. The request had been honoured, so again, top marks oh preened and polished happy folk, now a menu please – oh there it is, well done (flawless)! What did you say? I said well done flawless. What?? Oh, I see you can’t hear me, above the din and clatter which the very astute reviewer had also mentioned. Something about the acoustics of all those hard walls perhaps coupled with the hoards of drunk and very loud office folk roaring and bawling their lungs out. I’m not one for library atmospheres (recalling supper at Bentley’s where you could hear a pin drop and every time either of us would start a sentence, heads would instantly turn our way – get your own conversation, they’re cheap and some of them are even free!) although I would say that when the veins in your temple start throbbing due to vocal tension levels, its time for Mr and Mrs Suit to kindly STFU during mealtimes thank you. Waiters were too busy smiling to ask the suits to put a proverbial sock in it so we dished up a volume tsunami to counter their tempest and on with the show.

The menu is indeed basic, which is not a bad thing in my opinion as the theory is that each dish is prepared to perfection as the kitchen isn’t stretched beyond capacity with zillions of ingredients, and the produce is more likely to be in season. I was intrigued by wild bream as I’ve never managed to get my hands on any; they’re usually the farmed variety and I’ve always found wild fish taste better than their farmed counterparts. The prettier of the two of us got the chop, but quite honestly only in the literary sense as I was bowled over by how well she nodded and smiled as I blundered on.

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This bream was a fillet, which I don’t mind too much, although preference is to have it served whole; however more to the point, it was one fillet as opposed to both sides. Really? £15 for half a fish? So, £30 per fish. Perhaps that’s the “wild” they were referring to. Flavour wise in all honesty, I can’t say it tasted all that fresh. It certainly didn’t have that boat-to-plate flavour you get in coastal or island eateries but I’ve definitely had fresher tasting fish in London (Sheekey’s, Scotts, Bentley’s, Wilton’s, Franco’s to name but a few) for roughly the same price all in. Still, the dish itself was pleasant enough and the roast potatoes were perfect – light, fluffy and a delicate hint of rosemary. Little Miss Sunshine’s chop looked quite the rugged slab a chop should, and she billed and cooed at it prettily as she wolfed it down, giving it a whacking eight out of ten. Wine was a pleasing 2010 Falerio DOC, nicely balanced, not too sharp and a little complex but then aren’t we all? I’d go back there just to work through the wine list, as it features a great all round representation of Italy’s wines, to suit every palette and wallet.

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Ms C, my delectable companion went all raspberry and grappa pannacotta (fancy pants) and not wishing to be outdone I hit a slab of chocolate, almond and hazelnut cake. Moist, delicate and not enough sour cream. What’s with this sour cream thing anyway? Its plain dumb although I accept that having an American Mother means I like sugar with my sugar. So its ice cream with cake right?

Bermondsey Street is a good choice for an evening out as it has a cute, quirky cool feel to it but without the one-clique-and-you’re-out vibe honed by the Shoreditch set we secretly love to loathe. Another notable haunt worth a mention is The Garrison, a wonderfully Alice in Wonderland type of gastro-pub with such oddities as a teacup light cluster, a secret drawer full of donated confessions, and a boutique basement cinema. Will wonders never cease? I hope not because then I’ll be out of a job. Did I say job? Wishful thinking…

Square Meal

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