London’s desire for affordable fresh pasta dishes has shown not signs of abating in the year 2020. The year already saw the debut of the fresh Padella – possibly the city’s most popular instance of the concept along with the subsequent Pastaio, Lina Stores and Bancone locations that have also been opened in the last few months.
In what was once Foxlow Soho premises, Bancone Golden Square (actually located on Lower James Street) follows the popularity in that of the Covent Garden original. In the interior, counter seating remains a major feature (‘banconi literally translates to ‘counters which is Italian) and marble flooring encompassing the new restaurant, which is 4,000 square feet and counter space that can accommodate 90 patrons. The bigger restaurant has the basement area, which houses a separate bar. Along with the counter seating, tables are scattered throughout the dining area on the ground floor set around an olive tree which serves as the primary central feature of the interior. On a Friday night the restaurant was well decorated and cosy, with loud music was played throughout the restaurant. The service was friendly and efficient, but not overly rushed. It’s important to note you can make reservations at Bancone.
In terms of the menu, many of the restaurant’s most popular pasta dishes are being brought to the new location and Culinary Director Claudio Melis (formerly of Michelin-starred In Viaggio Ristorante), and Chef Stefano Cilia having created a menu of fresh dishes. Bancone’s wine menu is impressive, featuring an extensive selection of European-inspired wines, along with the most diverse selection of glass wines available.
From the menu’s “antipasti’ section, dinner started with a slender cakey focaccia that was sprinkled with cloves of roast garlic and drenched in honey, a powerful intro (PS4). A platter of freshly-picked crab was served alongside a lightly sweet melon sauce as well as small grapefruit chunks that were tart and contrasting with to the sweetness of the sauce as well as crab, which was balanced through the use of saumon Roe (PS9). In addition, a round of crispy polenta stuffed with gorgonzola molten, sprayed with nutmeg before being served with the bed of wilted leeks with a hint of coppa, Italy’s most coveted exported cured meat (PS7.50). A well-balanced and balanced dish that is superior to the crab. Photo: Jade Nina Sarkhel
Moving on to our pasta dishes, it’s no surprise that the’silk handkerchiefs’ are a popular choice in Bancone (PS9). Thin pasta ribbons can be joined with a hefty sauce that is bursting with walnut and butter and topped with a perfectly cooked egg yolk – a perfect accompaniment which make up for the tiny overcooking of the pasta. In addition, the squid-ink tacolini’s presentation may not be for the faint-hearted because the pasta’s steam causing the bonito flakes that swish and writhe as if pulled from a 1940’s horror movie. The cooking was perfect but so the squid hunks and a little confit tomatoes, garlic, and a strong smooch of chili (PS13).
The best part is that the venison ragu was a huge quantity of slow-cooked meat and was served with a generous amount of garlic and rosemary and the sauce was more creamy than what they are normally served during The UK (PS12.50). A pleasant relief, served with pappardelle ribbons that were cooked well and a further shave of parmesan. Naturally. A decent dessert menu is available, however I’d recommend making room for a different, outstanding pasta dish.
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