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|Address:||12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB|
|Tel:||020 7734 2223|
|Price: £50.00||Wine: £21.75||Champagne: £57.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12.15-3pm (Sun -3.30pm) 5.30pm-11pm (Sun -9.30pm)|
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Now I have history with fried. Show me a tapas bar, a fine dining restaurant or a street-side snack joint and I'll gravitate toward the section in batter.
BDL is a perfect case in point. A menu spanning the best parts of Italy available on a small plate. It could very well be the older, grown up brother that Polpo doesn't have or a distant cousin for similarly light and upmarket Barrafina.
Admittedly it's got a ‘build your own’ Frito Misto section and an obsession with the (literally) gutsier end of the pig, but in the main it's a well brought up, properly behaved small plate Italian. Friendly staff in black buzz along the thick, light marble bar into the serious restaurant at the rear. If you're only a two (or a very close three) then snare seats at the wide bar if you can. It's well designed for flowing access behind you and relatively calm, even opposite the frantic kitchen, and doesn't thankfully feel like either an afterthought or a corridor.
There's plenty on the keenly priced sharing menu to tempt the non meaty. I could happily graze from their side dishes, and a small plate of plump, fresh broad bean tortellini was well executed and possibly life extending if not eye opening. But in all honesty, if you're at BDL for a bite, chances are it's going to be porky.
Most of the dishes come with two sizes, and even the small plates are reasonably proportioned. We started with plump olives, as green as snooker baize and a brace of sourdough bruchetta, layered with some of the sweet and seasonal broad beans scattered across several other dishes on the menu, here combined with salty thin shards of pig's cheek and a deep umami laden jus. They paired perfectly with similarly seasonally apt courgette flowers, stuffed with mozzarella and lifted out of their slightly oily batter with the soft bite of anchovy.
If I were to throw a criticism, it'd be that oil. It slightly marred the courgette flowers and soaked deeply into the sheet holding the so-so Frito Misto too. Not a deal-breaker, but enough to make you regret another order of fried. You build your own frito from a small menu, baccalau was unctuous flaky battered pollack, whole squid gave great texture in the tentacles but over floured rings and bland aubergine, little more than an oil trap, let down the final dish.
Thankfully, and expectedly for a restaurant with its own ice-cream parlor over the road, they made up with the desserts. My guest took a trio of the homemade, fruit stuffed ice creams, here nestling in a toasted brioche roll, I went for Sanguinaccio, the devil's own nutella, a thick chocolate paste with pine nut and pig's blood from Abruzzo, the blood adding a dark note of sweet iron, lifting the dark cocoa to the heavens. I licked the bowl clean. I'm not a proud man…