3 January 2019

Table for one at Bancone


One of my favourite things to do in London is explore new places alone. Mainly because I like to do things on my own terms, but sometimes it's because I can never be sure if my findings will be underwhelming - then, at least, I'm only disappointing myself.

Carbs are my best friend, so with numerous fresh pasta places popping up around London, I'm keen to tick them all off my list (I've blogged about Savurè in Shoreditch; recently took my sisters to Flour & Grape in Bermondsey; and desperately need to visit Pastaio and the much-talked about Padella).

Having just been to Rome, I was having trouble weaning myself off having pasta for lunch. I found myself with annual leave to play with, and an urge to visit Christmassy Covent Garden, so decided to take myself out to Bancone, right near the National Portrait Gallery.

             
Of the restaurant and menu itself, the main chef Louis Korovilas says the following:

We’re a pasta restaurant and our key focus is to nail simple great tasting hand-made pasta. I’d describe our style as experimental yet still keeping hold of integrity to traditional Italian concepts. You’ll see a nod to Nordic and classical French influences on the menu and rather than focus on the protein, we choose to start with the veg ingredients and work from there. We work with seasonal ingredients to make the most of the best tasting produce. This even means in some months we’ll go without tomatoes until they’re back to their best, despite them being a staple in Italian cooking.

[Full interview with Louis here]


To start, I opted for a classic Aperol Spritz. It was in a pleasingly LARGE glass, but wasn't nearly as strong as the one I'd had a few weeks before in its country of origin.

For my main, I went for tomato and basil gnocchi, with a good ol' sprinkle of parmesan. As mentioned by Louis, the menu changes according to whatever's in season, so the current menu is different to what I experienced (good for trying new things, bad if you're a creature of habit), but there is always a vegan option on the menu and a few veggie options too. Plus, the pasta can be made gluten-free.


I worried that the gnocchi would be heavy and stodgy, but all my fears were erased with my first bite. So pillowy! So light! The tomatoes were also fantastic, and offset perfectly with the basil. Guys, I know a tomato and basil pasta seems incredibly basic, but no joke, this was fantastic. It was one of those few culinary moments where I wanted so much to eat it because it was so flavoursome but as my plate lessened I was sad because it meant the moment was drawing to a close.

OVER TOMATO AND BASIL GNOCCHI. I kid you not.


I should mention, this place was busy, BUT you can book. Being alone and having not booked, I was placed at the top of the bar, near the door. If you can, request to be at the far end of the bar so you can watch the chefs in action.


I really like an open kitchen as it gives a venue a buzz and a focal point - which is ideal if you find yourself on a solo lunch date, like me.

It also gives you something to look at when the couple next to you are in the middle of a passive aggressive argument and you don't want to look like you're eavesdropping...


If you have a larger group, there's an area upstairs with a small bar for private parties...


And upstairs also offers a view of the hubbub below.


I'd recommend Bancone for the food - take a friend and order a few sharing plates but keep room for the mains - but I'd also recommend it as somewhere to take yourself out as a treat, by yourself. Sitting at the bar is a destination in itself, and the buzz of the open kitchen means you blend in and can soak up the atmosphere, without feeling awkward.

So go, eat all of the pasta and watch the masters at work. You won't regret it.

Ciao.



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