CAFÉ MURANO

by Charlie Tee


 
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This St James’ spot is a more relaxed and approachable outpost of Angela Hartnett’s famed Mayfair restaurant of the same name; perfect for a working lunch.  The northern Italian menu is well considered and the cooking commendable.

Stand out dishes included a superior fritto misto with a properly seasoned punchy mayonnaise with which to anoint the very lightly fried fish. Also the Spaghettini alla Puttanesca, with the addition of some superior tuna belly, was a great reminder of what one can rustle up from store cupboard staples. The ingredients; capers, olives, anchovies and tuna, are available from ambient tins.  Delia calls this dish ‘Tart’s Spaghetti’ to reference the ladies of the night who once may have prepared it in between clients – luckily in this instance it was enjoyed in between more ‘traditional’ business meetings.

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Beef carpaccio with girolles felt a little autumnal given the weather we have been blessed with in the Capital, but the whole dish was lifted by the clever and confident, use of vinegar.  The same good vinegars dressed a simple salad of heritage tomatoes, again showing how simplicity reigns supreme in Italian cooking. This sentiment again confirmed by a perfectly grilled bass, served only with lemon, Amalfi of course.

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So as not to mix nationalities and to stay in the north of Italy, Gavi di Gavi was the vino del giorno and was as crisp and zippy as ever.  Served not too cold, as is often the case, this wine really shows its true colours.

The interior of the restaurant is very tastefully designed.  Comfort comes in the form of leather seating and solid wood tables, making it an easy dining room to relax into.  The long bar to one side of the deep room is an ideal spot not only for an aperitivo, but also is a great place to sit for solo diners; there were a few on the day that were being very well looked after by the very efficient barmen.

The dining room suits itself to an informal bite to eat with colleagues or friends and the service here is very professional.  Dishes arrived speedily and staff are courteous and efficient. For a hasty bite to eat, properly cooked, in the nice end of town, Café Murano does not disappoint.  I am already looking forward to going back in the evening, when the lights are lower, the wines fuller in body, and the glut of Italian produce that autumn affords us will really be able to shine.  ‘Cin cin!’ as the Italians say.