As you’ll know if you’ve been keeping up to date with the blog, I ate out a lot to celebrate my birthday. The final in my birthday celebrations was a relaxed meal at new pasta joint, Flour & Grape, on the actual day.
I love pasta, I like making it at home, I like experimenting with different dishes and I like eating it out. There’s just something wonderful about those big silky ribbons wrapped in sauce – like a giant Italian hug in a bowl. You can imagine my joy then, to hear that a new pasta place had opened on my favourite Bermondsey Street, (home to The Garrison), in London Bridge that you can book in advance. Yes, no more waiting in the cold for great pasta for me!
I’d actually booked for Sunday lunchtime as my Mum was visiting for the day, but the bottomless brunch the day before turned into an all day drinking session and I was in a very sorry state the next morning! I was way too hungover to move and had to reschedule (twice, oops) moving from a lunch to dinner reservation. They were so accommodating and nothing was too much trouble which I was very appreciative of!
We arrived at around 6pm on a Sunday evening, so it was fairly quiet when we got there. I hadn’t realised before I arrived that Flour & Grape is actually Antico reincarnated. Same building, same team (for the most part) but much, much better. I had been to Antico previously when I first moved to London and though I enjoyed it, I thought it was a bit pricy and lacked atmosphere.
Inside Flour & Grape looked great, all mirrors, wooden tables and twinkling candles. It was cosy and inviting, just what I needed in the state I was in. I couldn’t face any wine whatsoever but the wine list looked fairly reasonably priced (around £5-7 a glass, but only a 125ml glass) and Mum had a nice glass of red.
We shared a few starters; an endive, gorgonzola, pear and pine nut salad, some fresh bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip and a plate of salumi. You can’t beat warm fresh bread, it was all wonderfully fluffy and airy – I had to make a conscious effort not to ruin my appetite by demolishing it all! The pear, gorgonzola and endive salad was lovely, the crunchiness of the endive and pine nuts well-contrasted against the soft, creaminess of the blue cheese and pear.
For mains we shared two plates of pasta; the beef short rib ragu with pappardelle and the pork shoulder and sage butter tortelloni. When I visited Padella, the beef shin ragu with pappardelle stole my heart so I was interested to compare.
I’m pleased to say this was was delicious. The ragu was warming, rich and tasty, the sauce clinging to the wide ribbons perfectly. I would definitely order it again. I enjoyed the pork and sage tortelloni a lot too, you could really taste the pork shoulder. It had a strong meaty flavour and had maintained its texture so it wasn’t mushy inside. They certainly didn’t skimp on fillings for each parcel either.
Disappointingly I was too full for dessert (I blame the hangover as that basically never happens). I guess that means I’ll just have to return and let you know my thoughts… A difficult task but one I’m willing to do, all in the name of blogging of course…
The chocolate and hazelnut Budino with sea salt looked great (I was very jealous of the lady on the next table!). It looked like an Italian version of the one that Jose Pizarro has done at Taste of London before, so I look forward to trying that.
Overall I was a big fan of Flour & Grape and will definitely return to try more. I think if you held a gun to my head and forced me to find fault, I might say that the pasta itself at Padella may have been fractionally silkier but (and it’s a big but), the difference is marginal and the cosy, non-rushed, bookable nature of Flour & Grape means it’s a big thumbs up for me. It would be the perfect setting for a first date – not too formal, not too loud.
What Italian restaurants do you recommend? Any great pasta places I should visit? Let me know in the comments!
Nearest station: London Bridge
If you want to read about my other birthday celebrations click the links below:
- Chocolate afternoon tea, Hilton, London Park Lane
- Oxbo bottomless brunch
- Smoking Goat Shoreditch
- Hawksmoor, Spitalfields