Over the last few years it’s become a lovely tradition to get together with Annie and Jerry for a meal just before Christmas. This year they suggested somewhere new to me for our meal – and of course every food blogger just loves trying out new restaurants, and in my case, especially when it’s an Italian restaurant.
Latium is situated in London’s Fitzrovia, in Berners Street. It’s named after the Lazio region of Italy (in which Rome lies) and specialises in food from that area – though not exclusively so. They source ingredients from small artisan producers, use seasonal products and make their bread and pasta fresh every day. They’re apparently well known for their ravioli. We arrived in time for the early evening menu, which is quite extensive, offering a choice of six starters, six mains and dessert is a choice from the à la carte menu. It’s very reasonably priced at £17.50 for 2 courses and £21 for 3 courses.
It was quiet when we arrived but soon started filling up. The welcome was warm and friendly and after handing over our winter coats we were shown to our table. It’s was a perfectly sized round table for 3 people, which is just so much more friendly than a rectangular one. Menus came, a bowl of bread and some olive oil put on the table. Jerry ordered a bottle of fizz and we started to make our choices.
I could have happily ordered most of the dishes. The starters ranged from Minestrone soup, to mozzarella with grilled vegetables, carpaccio of pig’s tongue (which I have to confess I wasn’t quite so sure about) and beef bresaola. However, I chose Grilled Mazzancolle Prawns with Cod Brandade and Grilled Polenta.
It was nicely presented and very delicious. The prawns were particularly tasty. Annie had the same starter while Jerry chose Cod and Smoked Salmon Fish Cake with Lime Mayonnaise, Limon Cress and Pea Shoots. He said it was wonderful, the fish cake had a lovely smooth texture and he liked the lime flavours with it from the mayonnaise and limon cress, which is known for its scent and taste of lime with a slight hint of aniseed.
We chose different main courses. I had Grilled Lamb Leg Steak, Deep Fried Artichokes, Fondant New Potatoes and Balsamic.
It was a wonderful plate of food. The lamb was perfectly cooked with a caramelised, slightly crisp outside but gloriously pink and rare in the middle. Just perfect!
Annie had Deboned and Grilled Quail ‘al mattone’, Castelluccio Lentils, Seasonal Mushrooms and Chestnut. I think the Christmasy chestnuts appealed to her but so too did having the quail deboned. ‘Al mattone’ literally means ‘by the brick’: the bird (often chicken) is butterflied and weighed down on the grill by a brick so that it cooks quickly and is juicy and smoky. Annie said it was perhaps the best quail she’d ever had and gave me a taste. It was wonderful and incredibly tender.
Jerry chose Slow Roasted Belly of Pork with Calabrian Spicy Ndjua, which was also good. We’d ordered a bottle of Primitivo to drink with our mains.
Annie didn’t want dessert but luckily for me, Jerry did, so I didn’t debate with myself long about going for the 3 courses. I chose Bonet Piemontese, Amaretti Crumble, Caramel and Whipped Cream.
One could see the density of the chocolate but the eating was gloriously light and it was a fabulous dessert. Jerry had White Chocolate & Amaretto Mousse, Coconut Biscuit and Fig Sauce.
It looked good and apparently tasted good too. Then we all ordered coffee and a plate of petit fours came with it, including some pieces of panettone – obviously for the Christmas effect!
It was a lovely meal and all the lovelier for the company of two of my dearest friends. We lingered for some time, enjoying our meal at a relaxing pace but never feeling we were waiting for anything. The service was excellent and Latium was definitely a great restaurant to be introduced to.