Like many of its redoubtable regulars, evergreen Daphne’s summons up the elegant SW3 of Swinging London and E-type Jags rather than MIC and Chelsea tractors. It’s also one of the few restaurants in the neighbourhood with a healthy lunch trade all week – don’t be surprised to see diners lingering over glasses of Vin Santo as the evening’s first drinkers turn up for Negronis at the marble-topped bar.
That’s not to say that the old girl hasn’t moved with the times: Daphne’s has been owned by Caprice Holdings since 1998 and while the ice-cream palette might nod towards languorous holidays on the Amalfi coast, the menu is the sort of English-accented Italian straight out of Chianti-shire.
Expect a collection of Caprice Holdings classics injected with un po dolce vita, from fleshy prawns with garlic and chilli to one of the best veal milanese in London (moist and buttery) or calf’s liver with smoked pancetta and cipolline (aka bacon and onion). Autumn brings white truffle specialities, although summer is the nicest time to visit, when the concertina doors fold open on to the passeggiata of Draycott Avenue.
The unpretentious approach to authentic regional food keeps regulars coming back but, like all the best Italian restaurants, Daphne’s is also perfect for celebratory bashes (whether you’re 18 or 80). Reliability is the watchword, and the place invariably “delivers on quality and service”, thanks to charming staff who never forget a face.
Prices, alas, are very much up to date, not least on an Italian-led wine list with slim pickings under £40, though generous portions mean you might not make it to dessert; finish instead with a coupe of zabaglione, as delightfully frothy a confection as Daphne’s itself.