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|Address:||47-51 Great Suffolk Street, London SE1 0BS|
|Tel:||020 7768 6113|
|Price: £45.00||Wine: £18.50||Champagne: £50.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-3pm (Sat-Sun -4pm) 6-11pm|
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I have never been a Ramsay fan so I came here prepared and ready to criticise – I didn't get a chance! To me this was everything a restaurant/café should be – good atmosphere, good food, fun vibe and decent attentive service. So good in fact that we have been there twice in one month – an accolade attributed only to very rare culinary gems such as Zucca on Bermondsey Street!! This place ticked all four boxes. OK – the decor will not be to everyone's liking : industrial chic meets über trendy contemporary design but in this location it works. Would you take clients there to discuss the terms of the next contract over dinner? No. Too noisy, too brash and too hip. But you would certainly take them there to celebrate having signed the contract! The music is classy and helps create a good vibe and once the place fills up with people, it's loud and vivacious. The food is all very well cooked and well presented although if you don't have at least a smattering of Italian the menu is certainly a challenge being a) all in Italian and b) written in a scrolly nigh-on illegible script! Our initial waiter (who was both Italian and delightful) did admit to rather a sore throat after having gone through and explained the entire menu for us!! That said, when the food came there were plenty of complimentary “ooo's and aaghs” all round and the white truffle pasta was to die for!! They are also more than willing to bend the menu to your liking (e.g. substituting a pasta for rice or making a main course into a starter), which must be a real pain for the kitchen but was offered unhesitatingly. The service overall was certainly not faultless but quite a treat: here one is never quite sure who is looking after your table and so you end up grabbing the closest waiter which can sometimes lead to confusion – but it was quite attentive without being annoying and was friendly without being too “in your face”. If you show them some respectful interest in what they do, they really appreciate it and try to make you feel special. We made some inquisitive remarks to the maitre'd (another charming guy) about some of the techniques used to create one of our dishes and he kindly arranged for us to visit the kitchen after dinner and to meet Davide Degiovanni – the head chef. Davide is a true gentleman: a talented chef, proud of what he creates (rightly so!) and nothing was too much trouble for him to explain or show (no Ramsay histrionics here!!) – so much so that we started to feel guilty that we were taking up too much of his time!! The wine list is a treat, the sommelier both helpful and knowledgeable and the wine list is reasonably priced with a few gems, particularly if you like Italian South Tyrol bottles. All in all, although it is far from cheap (cocktails, wine and digestifs will ensure that you run towards 3 figures/head), it is nevertheless good value and an absolute treasure for the area. And, being a Chelsea fan, I am perfectly happy that Beckham is not involved in the place!!