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Sunday, 26 June 2011


Spuntino on Urbanspoon
An Italian word, Spuntino [a snack, small meal], is the name of the third restaurant to open in the Russel Norman empire. Others being Polpo, Polpetto and daPolpo. The name is fitting to the restaurant, as the menu is precise, with a clear point of sharing small plates of food. The diner/bar set up is true to its origins, as Italians don't go for a quick drink, they go for a quick pizza, and in Spuntino you sit at the bar only (yes only 20-something seats).
The design is rugged in a 'rough part of old town' kinda way, yet is 'cool' in every sense of the word: exposed brick and chipping tile, rusty looking, vintage, wrought iron features, yet a smooth steel finish on the bar and sophisticated woodwork as a polish. In short, the space itself makes you want to be there, it makes you want to come back, and it makes you want to have a beer!

Egg plant chips £4, and shoestring fries £3
So going with the decor, I can understand why the "rock'n'roll" looking staff have a 'relaxed' approach about serving, but this does not explain the same approach from the kitchen. Having ordered a couple of plates including the eggplant chips and curly fries to go on the side, these came out first. The fries were almost cold, and definitely not something to eat on their own, if at all. It took at least 10 minutes for the rest of the food to come out.

I do wish, however, that I had taken a seperate photo of the eggplant chips, because they were the highlight of the day. Crispy coating of sesame and fennel, with a soft eggplant middle were impeccable. Truly a dream.
Truffled egg toast £5.50
The 'truffled egg toast' came out looking gooey and delicious. But cutting the toast with a butter knife proved to be a problem. The toast was too crispy, boarder line stale at the bottom, which slightly ruined it for me. Nevertheless, the runny egg, the cheese and the truffle oil work wonders together.
Lamb and Pickle slider £5
The sliders went as quickly as the came! Perfectly cooked lamb meatball, well seasoned and moist, but I was underwhelmed with the pickles. For a 'lamb and pickle' slider, there could have been more "umph".
Soft shell crab £9.50
As a last attempt to fill the gap, we went for the 'Soft shell crab'. It was not impressive. Too much batter drowned out the crispy soft shell of the crab, and the succulent meat inside. The crab was moist, but the batter too oily. The soft shell can do wonders with just a little frying, this dish missed the mark by a mile.
Overall I can see the attraction of Spuntino, with no telephone number and a no reservation policy, funky decor and only 26 seats available, no wonder there is always a line to get in. But what I can't understand is the rave about the food. Ok, it's different to any other place, in that it is simple almost gourmet "hang over" food, but given the opportunity for another innovative hang out with a creative kitchen to compete, and it may not stand out from the crowd. This time I may stick to its sister restaurants, Polpo and daPolpo.

Russel Norman now has a book! a must have i think :) Square Meal

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