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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)|
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
I have tried to love Bocca Di Lupo, I really have. But at the end of the day I just don't. It's not me, it's you; you're just not my type.
And this is odd, as you really should be. Deep fried fish, game, interesting wines. They're all here. But, and I don't really know why, the whole is somehow so much less than the sum of the parts, that I just can't find the love. Like finding out that Kylie supports Spurs; heartbreaking as, on paper, everything seems so perfect.
It's not as if I haven't tried; this is the fourth or fifth time I've been, but it still doesn't click. I'm sorry, but it's Polpo for me from now on for small dish Italian nosh.
This weekend was the second time I'd tried to go in the last few weeks. The previous time I'd booked for four. One pulled out so, when I was called to reconfirm, I confirmed for three. The fourth then changed their mind, but, on calling the restaurant, I was first told I'd only ever had a booking for three, and was the told there was no way we could up our booking to four. Now I'm sorry, but the restaurant has tables for two or four. Where exactly were three going to sit; on a table otherwise for two or four?
So I cancelled and we went to Ten Cases. Yet I still got chased for not having turned up.
Now I suppose that this should have been a warning. But no, a couple of weeks later I tried again. No troubles with booking, but arriving ten minutes late, we were told that our table wasn't ready. The great thing about modern technology (other than updating cancellations, it seems) is that everything comes up on the reception screen. No reservations book, all on screen.
So I could stand there and watch the red flag counting by how much the people on our table had overstayed their allotted time. 26 minutes overstaying for a two hour reservation. Sorry, but you need to manage this if you don’t want people to get annoyed about standing around waiting for a table that they have booked. Now I don’t like aggressive table turning, but I do like to sit at some time close to when I’ve booked for.
Eventually we were asked if we'd like a drink and, on having ordered, our table became free.
There is no denying that room is great: a long bar (or chef's counter) leading to babbling cacophony of contented chatter, raising to occasional shrieked welcome as BFFs great each other in some weird non-mating ritual. Tables of two occupy the walls and some four person tables in the middle. Some of which, I noted, were laid up for three. Odd that.
Food is laid out under headings like “fried”, “pasta and rice”, “meat” etc. And the food is generally pretty good. Having had the fried olives recently at Spuntino, we thought we'd try some, together with some fried Mozzarella balls, whilst we decided what else to ingest.
Oh dear. Not a good start: we'd been told be the (extremely helpful) waitress that the olives were the size of golf balls. Fair enough, the more traditional cured ones brought to the table with the bread were enormous. At Spuntino they come stuffed, lightly coated and fried. Here, the olive is but an ingredient in a veal and olive meatball. Nice in its way, but not quite what we'd wanted. Nor too the fried mozzarella balls, which were soggy and cold. A deep fried frigid cheese oozing water is not what I was looking for.
The fried squid and prawns was a serious step up. Light batter, crunchy fresh and piping hot. Very nice indeed. “Oh yes”, our waitress assured us on seeing our enjoyment of the dish, “people are often surprised at how good the food is: we’re a hidden gem”. Hidden gem? Come on – BdL has had almost as many column inches over the years as Heston had when he opened Diner. And for the amount of coverage that it has had, it needs to be better.
That said, the pasta was well cooked and fine, if not memorable, and the beans very nice too. The teal, however, was horribly over-cooked. I had expected more as, having been warned that it was served pink, and having seen the pigeon and mallard at the next table arrive dripping red goodness, I assumed that the teal would be treated with respect and come with the redness of the myoglobin swimming out, mixing with the wet polenta. Perhaps the next door table had complained about just how pink their game was. Perhaps the teal was forgotten in the oven. What ever the reason, it was not pink at all. It was brown. The teal is a tiny bird. It takes skill and care to shoot it (trust me, I’ve tried and failed). The least that the kitchen could do is to take as much skill and care in cooking it.
Wine is a high point, and the staff are good at suggesting interesting ones: a call for a glass of white was met not with the usual generic pino grigio, but an interesting Fiano and the red was, whilst from Piedmont, an unusual Langhe DOC rather than the more usual (and expensive) Barolo or Barbaresco.
As if to compound the hit and miss nature of the service, the bill came with a couple of items that we hadn’t had.
Shame really, but there are plenty more fish in the sea, I’m sure that you’ll meet the right person soon but I think we should just remain friends.