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REVIEW: Diciannove, Blackfriars

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It’s a funny old place, Blackfriars. We can’t say we’d visit on the weekend – apart from The Blackfriar pub, there’s not a whole lot to draw us there. Bustling business hub during the week, ghost town thereafter – so what’s a nice Italian restaurant doing in the middle of it all? It’s in the base of a hotel, of course.

Sleek dark woods, bright lighting and staff who converse in whispers – many middle-weight hotel bars and restaurants share the same streamlined style – the sort you see Scarlett Johannson swanning about in with men far too old for her in films you can’t remember the name of. But hungry we were, and Italian food we wanted, so it was off to try Diciannove. And, well – we started wishing we were Scarlett pretty soon after.

A huge plate of green olives and warm Italian breads greeted us (albeit in the middle of the largest table for two we’d ever sat at – it was almost necessary to shout across the table), followed by a small portion of Spaghettini All’astice (fresh lobster, pigato, thyme and fresh tomato) to start (very sumptuous).

5

Mains (secondi, darling) was a bottle of 2012 Tilia Malbec Mendoza (Argentinian) alongside a plate of Agnello Al Saporito – a small pan-fried rack of lamb, with braised aubergine, red and yellow pepper, sautéed bock choy and baby tomatoes. Tasty, but very fatty and at £28.50, frankly not worth the price.

For dessert, we were sad to find no panna cotta on the menu but cheered when a huge chocolate mousse arrived in a china teacup. By this time, surrounding tables were filling up a little, but the transient nature of hotel restaurants can leave one feeling marooned – surrounded by lone diners, there isn’t much buzz. Despite that, we liked the place – it can be lovely to feel tucked away if you’re in a quieter, thoughtful mood.

The menus need work – patched up in places, revisions have been stuck on top of old with glue, different fonts explaining new dishes – surprising and sloppy for a well-presented restaurant with good staff.

In short, for a hotel restaurant of yesteryear (it’s at the base of the well-established Crowne Plaza), this place really isn’t half bad, but expensive. On a Thursday we’d be sure to recommend it if you’re in the area (we discovered Voltaire bar downstairs to be full of people) – we’re just not sure how soon that’ll be…

Website: Diciannove19.com

Address: 19 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6DBSign-Up To FashionBite’s Weekly News

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