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343 Kensington High Street
After a period of ill-advised experimentation and over-complication, Acciuga has reverted back to what it does best: "serious Italian cooking". Taking inspiration from his native north-west Italy, Guglielmo Arnulfo packs big flavours into his smart takes on the region's "authentic" dishes: crisp aubergine slices and burrata foam brought together in a parmigiana-style starter, pan-fried tuna with a poppy-seed crust, and seared rack of lamb atop a bed of soft artichoke are typical of his "carefully prepared" repertoire. For dessert, the raspberry millefeuille with pistachio foam is worth holding out for. Good-value set lunches and a seafood tasting menu offer variety, although Acciuga's "smallish" dishes would benefit from "more competitive prices", says one reader. The setting is several cuts above your average neighbourhood Italian, with lively pop art adorning the walls and a well-drilled team of waiters delivering spot-on service.
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343 Kensington High Street
Kensington Olympia Station 437m
Kensington Olympia Tube Station 532m
Charles House 271m
Design Museum 322m
Tues-Sat 11.45am-3pm 6.30-11pm Sun 12N-4pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
Acciuga is every inch the family-run neighbourhood restaurant, with super-genial hosts extending genuine enthusiasm. Prices are indicative of the clientele, who look remarkably well preserved and clearly think nothing of blowing £500 on a midweek bottle of wine. For my (rather more humble) party, sparkling nebbiolo proved a deeply unusual aperitif with its dusky pink hue and distinctive depth; it was the antithesis of sickly sweet rose, and all the better for it. The owner beamed with pride over its provenance and his links with the small-scale producers; so too the 2010 Barolo (£60) we later enjoyed.
But the financial assault continued; eat the traditional run of antipasti, primi and secondi and you’ll have racked up £45 on food before pud, and I regret that the overall quality simply didn’t warrant such sums. To start, a stuffed veal meatball was nice enough albeit under seasoned; a rare problem for Italian cuisine. I ordered Acciuga's alternative to garlic bread: paper-thin layers of dough stuffed with tangy stracchino cheese. It was very moreish indeed, but a tenner a piece seemed obscene. A very average stuffed tordelli pasta followed alongside a prawn ‘lasagne’ that more closely resembled a scone with its layers of seafood, béchamel and wonderfully light pastry. (Far tastier than it sounds).
Next, polenta-crusted rabbit with capers was delicious, but accompanied by a deeply unpleasant (and unidentifiable) gluey paste. Pork belly with apple showcased a more classic flavour combo, but the execution went awry. Had the whole, cored apple been baked to a meltingly soft consistency, it would have worked; instead it was impenetrably firm and warmed only by the flash cooking of swathes of lardo enrobing it. My partner was flummoxed as to how to tackle it, suggesting the chef may have been more consumed with aesthetics than the prospect of actually tucking in. With no space left for dessert, we braced ourselves for the hefty bill… and so it was.
In summation, the good: our meal was perfectly paced and I’d be amazed if table turning was ever a problem here. The bad: we couldn’t shake the feeling that we paid through the nose to be guinea pigs for the experimental dishes, while the traditional cooking sometimes fell short. I’ve no doubt that a good few locals have grown fond of Acciuga - treasuring its hospitality and oddball styling - but we were less ready to recommend it.
Food + drink: 4
We chose this restaurant on the strength of its location and we are all dedicated foodies. The restaurant was empty on day we went there, possibly because on Saturdays their two-course lunch offer is not available. The welcome was warm and the service excellent throughout the delicious meal. The dishes were carefully prepared, interesting and authentic - and we respected the passion with which the ingredients were sourced and the dishes cooked. However, we did not think the restaurant offered good value for money. This is a wealthy area and perhaps that would not discourage the locals but, for us, small starters for £10, smallish pasta dishes for £15 and mains for £20 was over the top. The vegetarian beef burger at £20 is an example - also cavolo nero soup at £10 is another. Why not distinguish between the dishes offered? This restaurant would benefit from a lunch-time menu with more competitive prices.
Food + drink: 2
I had heard great things about Acciuga, so had high expectations when I went.
I was mainly disappointed by my starter. I generally love stuffed courgette flowers, so ordered them, however they arrived deep fried in thick breadcumbs so you could not taste the courgette flowers at all – to the extent that I wondered if I had been given what I had ordered. Stuffing wasn't the best I had either, as again felt very heavy.
Main course fine. But I won't be going back.
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