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|Address:||9 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LS|
|Tel:||020 7240 3334|
|Price: £43.00||Wine: £19.00||Champagne: £45.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 12N-2.30pm Mon-Sat 5.30-10pm|
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What a terrific place: nothing fancy, but a small, cosy, mediterranean-food-inspired place, set close enough to Soho to be known, but far enough off the restaurant track not to be outrageously expensive or overcrowded.
The (summer midweek) evening that we went, it was full, which means a maximum of about 30 covers. Tables are close together, so conspiratorial conversation is hard, although joy of joys, no canned music to contend with. Only places that are totally comfortable with the atmosphere that their dinners will create are bold enough to get away with this. Good for the Giaconda.
The menu is remarkably long for what looks as though there is only one person in front of the stove: the back wall of the restaurant is a wall of wine with a gap in the middle, allowing a view through to the tiny kitchen. The food is simple enough: in our group of four, we had the daily soup special (a rich crab bisque), the risotto of the day (summer truffle) and the crispy pigs trotter. The latter was not, as we had hoped, a whole trotter, but a wobbly square of glutinous trotter meat, toped off with a crispy crust of parmesan, atop soft boiled eggs and some salad leaves. Really rather good.
Mains too hit the spot: the duck confit was beautifully crispy (and came with a simple watercress salad); the steak was as rare as asked for, with good (skin-on) chips; steak tartare perfectly acceptable; and the the ham hock hash, a sort of ham-patty, crumbed and topped with anchovy and fried egg. Again, all really rather good.
The wine list too is in keeping with the food: lots of interesting, regional wines at seriously good prices, although with the odd higher priced example (Chasse Spleen 1989 at £103, about double retail). We had a Bergerac Blanc and a very passable Chinon, both in the mid-twenties.
Service is friendly, in that died-blond, Eastern European way that is taking over in London, and the bill was, for this part of town and this quality of food, exceptionally reasonable.
The restaurant's tag line of “we aren't flashy or grand and that suits us just fine”, sums Giaconda up perfectly. Don't go here expecting foams, smears or anything remotely trendy, but do go for fine, honest cooking, a good atmosphere and fair prices.