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21 April 2017
Perception of restaurants is very much dependent on expectations. If the expectation of Radici is that it will be like L'Anima or Sartoria or that it will be fine dining or even that it will be the best quality high end ingredients, disappointment will be inevitable. Radici is none of these but that is not to say it is bad for what it is.
Radici aims to be a tratorria and it 'sort of' succeeds but not entirely.
If informal means noisy, it is certainly informal (to be honest I should have remembered that I stopped going to Francesco Mazzei's L'Anima because it was so noisy that conversation was impossible at peak times - he seems to like having hard echoing surfaces everywhere - as Jay Rayner recently said, there clearly are people who like restaurants like this, however, I am not one of them). The decor is also a bit of a mishmash with different styles of furniture and odd concentrations of tables in some areas with big gaps elsewhere. Perhaps this is designed to show its informality and allow for access to the small outside terrace when the weather improves, but this is only speculation and it could simply be bad design.
The menu is limited and has a parson's egg quality of being good in places. Some thought has been given to the dishes and there are unusual and often successful items. However, a number of dishes were let down by poor execution; over-cooked pasta, an item described as containing pancetta containing none, an over-purified sauce and some unappetising presentations). It seemed that the kitchen mayhave been overwhelmed based on the time taken for food to arrive after ordering and so perhaps this is something than can be expected to improve in time.
Prices are in line with other well-known informal Italian restaurants in the West End which is fine insofar as it goes but lower prices might be expected given the out of town location and the type of ingredients being used (think liver rather than beef or lamb, think salt cod rather than fresh seasonal fish, think lots of pizza).
The wine list lacked imagination. It is short (which can be a blessing) and entirely comprised of wines from the less fashionable regions of Italy (which is welcome as these can produce excellent wines at very reasonable prices). However, the list is dominated by mega producers whose wines can be found in most UK wine shops (a single producer accounts for 20% of the list) rather than unknown (in the UK), interesting, independent makers. Again the mark ups are in the typical West End range of 300-400% over retail plus VAT and so there are no bargains here. In fact, it was very disappointing to see the "no label" house wines which are sold only by the glass and carafe were more expensive on a volume basis than some of the "labeled" wines on the list. Surely a tratorria has to offer good value house wines.
Overall, and for me personally, this will never be a destination or a date restaurant but a place to grab a quick bite on the way to something but to be this it needs to improve the consistency of its cooking and offer better value for money on both food and wine.
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