The season to be jolly is once again looming and most restaurants are gearing up for Christmas and Festive menus all around us.
Pastabites was invited to taste one such menu, offered by Italian restaurant Diciannove which sits within the Crowne Plaza hotel in BlackFriars. A surprise for me was that, despite riding past this corner of London every single weekday, I had no idea there was a hotel, let alone an Italian restaurant!
Diciannove is manned by chef Alessandro Bay and all the staff we met on the night were Italian, which is always a good sign in my view (then I am biased, obviously).
The interior is elegant and spacious, but perhaps, like a lot of hotel restaurants, lacks a bit of identity. The a la carte menu is a selection of regional dishes with the region clearly specified which i think it’s a nice touch (but not a single dish hails from Campania, my region). We were however here to taste one the two Christmas menus, the one called Piccolo which is offered for £35 (as opposed to the Grande which is £50 and includes more dishes and more choice). The Piccolo includes sharing platter stater, a main and a dessert and matching sparking wines from Bisol, so pretty good value for money
After a Bellini and introductions to fellow bloggers and guests and the PR ladies, we begun with the Sharing platter. This included Fried calamari rings and Zucchini fritters, which were both as good as any, the frying really light and both options well seasoned. The board of cheese and cold cuts had small morsels of Parmigiano Reggiano, small morsels of mozzarella (one piece per person of either), Tuscan ham, fennel salame, mortadella from Bologna and pickles. The meats were good, but I found the mozzarella just ok, not as fresh as you can now get in London (it arrives twice a week, usually Tuesdays and Fridays, we dined on Tuesday). I also felt we could have done with more of the cheeses particularly.
The choice of main is either Roast turkey with roast potatoes, vegetables and red wine gravy or Pan fried cod with braised Umbria lentils and balsamic vinegar dressing. The cod portion was generous, but the lentils were the real star of the dish and I could have really done with a lot more! The turkey was, in @bmcboy’s view, the Italian version of roast turkey, a single slice of breast with roast vegetables. While both dishes were good, well cooked and absolutely pleasant to eat, for a festive meal, I’d expect a bit more – perhaps more side dishes (Brussels sprouts, more potatoes, greens in general) and I wonder if I were a vegetarian, what option would I have been given as there is none on the menu.
Finally the puddings, we had a choice of Tiramisu’ or Christmas pudding with brandy sauce; since I am not drinking alcohol at the moment, the staff very kindly offered me a few alternatives and I opted for Italian ice cream which I very much enjoyed; @bmcboy enjoyed the Christmas pudding, which was served with a light sauce. The regular Piccolo menu will also include the very Italian Panettone.
Overall we had a really good evening at Diciannove and enjoyed our meal. I think the Christmas Piccolo menu offers a good balance between a classic British dinner and Italian influence and would work well for team lunches and similar occasions.
We were guests of Diciannove on this occasion; I was not asked to write this post, opinions are my own.