SquareMeal Review of Bancone Golden Square
The last few years have seen an explosion of affordable pasta restaurants in London. Alongside the likes of Padella, Lina Stores and Pastaio, Covent Garden’s Bancone is proving what Londoners have known all along: the best course of an Italian meal is always the primi.
This new Soho branch of Bancone should ease the pressure on the waits for a table at the original – and it’s just as much of a success. When we dropped in for a midweek dinner, the restaurant was abuzz with families and after-work diners grouped around the indoor olive tree in the heart of the dining room and solo diners up at the counter watching the chefs at work.
Our meal began with a beautifully presented portion of white crab meat paired with a sweet melon sauce and sour chunks of grapefruit, which cut through the sweetness of the other elements perfectly. Creamy burrata with nutty radicchio and cubes of squash also made for a promising start.
Then it’s on the main event: decently sized plates of fresh pasta. Silky sheets of ravioli encasing melt-in-the-mouth ox cheek, all coated in a sweet and creamy port butter sauce, was the best thing we ate. Braised venison ragu with gluten-free tagliatelle (all the pasta is available gf) was just as impressive, coated in a creamy sauce which was a welcome change to the traditional tomato base of most ragus.
We finished with a hazelnut chocolate brûlée and basil semifreddo with pistachio crumb. After all that creamy pasta, the brûlée seemed a little too rich, although there was no faulting its wobbly texture and crisp, burnt top. The semifreddo made for a more refreshing end to the meal, though definitely isn’t the dessert to go for if you have a sweet tooth.
With friendly and knowledgeable staff, stylish interiors and a great atmosphere, Bancone is a name to bank on for a cheap thrill.
About Bancone Golden Square
London has been in the midst of a fresh pasta obsession for a few years now, and Covent Garden’s Bancone is one of the brightest stars to come out of the trend. Now, the affordable pasta joint has decided to double up its London portfolio with a second site in Soho.
This Lower James Street branch of Bancone extends across two floors and can accommodate around 90 diners, who perch on counters and high tables. The main dining room is on the ground floor and features an imposing olive tree at its centre, while the large basement is home to a dedicated cocktail bar and a private dining space for 12-16 people (you can hire the entire downstairs for a private party, if you like).
The menu is much the same as at the original site, and features pasta dishes which have become Bancone signatures, such as the ‘silk handkerchiefs’ which are served with walnut butter and confit egg yolk. The pasta plates are bookended by antipasti such as honeyed garlic focaccia and burrata, as well as puddings including chocolate mousse and a peanut butter panna cotta with raspberry gel. Look out for regular changing specials too, which are exclusive to the Soho location.
Wine is a natural pairing for pasta, and Bancone has an extensive European-leaning list of by-the-glass options to choose from. There are cocktails too, though, if you prefer, including a twist on the classic Espresso Martini called the Amaresso Martini.
Bancone Soho takes up residence on the former site of a branch of Foxlow, the spin-off mini-chain from the Hawksmoor group which has now closed all of its sites. Bancone’s original location in Covent Garden opened in April 2018, where it won praise for its simple, high-quality menu of pasta dishes, and pocket-friendly prices.