Spuntino in Soho was recommended to me by my dear friend Benedict Cumberbatch. And when I say recommended to me, I mean I once saw him eating there through the window. And when I say dear friend, I mean…well you get the idea. Despite the lack of direct celebrity endorsement, what I can tell you is that Spuntino’s is exactly the kind of restaurant which is attracting London’s coolest crowds. Brain child of Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, whose other ventures include Polpo in Soho and Smithfields, Spuntino cashes in on the rustic decor and relatively simple cuisine of its sister establishments. With very little signage to indicate what lays beyond it’s opaque glass windows, this little restaurant is on-trend with it’s no telephone, no reservation policy.
I think we can accurately state that Spuntino’s is in demand, but how does the food stack up? Unlike Polpo et al., there seems to be very little Italian influence on the menu. Indeed, I can’t help but think there is an attempt at American food, with menu items like sliders, prawn (or shall we say shrimp?) po-boys, and mac and cheese. If it is an American concept, the owners have gone to lengths to ensure there is nothing cheesy or cliche about the decor or menu. Snaps for that (and that’s coming from me, an American myself).
We ordered the buttermilk chicken wings, curly fries, burger and a beetroot, ricotta and pistachio salad, the last of which sounds snatched from the kitchens of Polpo. The general critical opinion of the food seems to be good quality and un-fussy, and I think I would agree with that assessment. You can taste the freshness in the ingredients, and even the beetroot’s sharp vinegar flavour led me to suspect it was a Spuntino’s original. I was honestly more intrigued by the cocktail menu which featured spiced rum and horseradish vodka made in house bottles.
The most original items on offer were probably the deserts, again with the American theme but incorporating off-beat ingredients like rum and stewed prunes. The strawberry and coconut mess is not an item you would ever find on an American menu, but it did look appetizing to my now Anglicised palate. We couldn’t help but order the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that fortunately turned out to be a dash more creative than it sounds. Peanut butter ice-cream took the place of bread, with a heavy helping of sharp raspberry compote, and topped with crushed carmelized peanuts to add a different texture. It looked beautiful, and tasted just as good:
For the small dishes you get, Spuntino’s is a bit on the pricey side. A large glass of wine will set you back 8 quid. But, considering it’s Soho location and trendy clientele, its no more than you would expect. I would certainly go back and dish-out for an incredible looking cocktail and give one of the larger mains a try. So, if you can manage to get in on a Friday or Saturday, wedge yourself in at the bar, and enjoy your view of London’s beautiful people. The food is really secondary.
Guest blogger: Kristin Hussey (@hussmeister), amateur foodie, expert celebrity spotter