London: crudo and pasta at Veneta

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SaltYard Group, the company behind favourites like Ember Yard and Opera Tavern recently opened a restaurant in the newly redeveloped area of St James’s, just next to Swedish Aquavit actually. Called Veneta it has a distinct Italian, and Ventian, cuisine, compared to the other restaurants with a more Spanish menu.

I assume it’s because of my frequent visits to Opera Tavern (I wonder how many times I’ve eaten their mini pork and foie gras burger) that I was on the mailing list for Veneta’s soft launch.Either way, I was quick to book a table and went there one night after work with my friend Ro.

As it was a soft launch they offered 50 % off food in exchange for trying things out on us, and requesting feedback.

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Just like the other restaurants in the group, Veneta’s menu consists of small dishes perfect for sharing. I was super excited to see a whole section of the menu devoted to crudo, i.e. raw fish and seafood, which I love and we quickly ordered the raw red prawns with rosemary (top photo). They were plump and sweet and very fragrant from the rosemary. Lovely! Next time I want to try the raw red prawns with lardo.

Next we had the tortelloni, filled with red prawns and served in a seafood broth. It was nice but didn’t blow us away.

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The goat kid ragu with pappardelle however, did. It was just amazing and I predict it will become one of their signature dishes (if it isn’t already!).

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The salt baked carrots and beets with sheep ricotta, date purée and oregano was lovely and the plate was as pretty as a picture. It’s fun to see the vegetable dishes getting as much care and attention as the meat and fish dishes.

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The lamb with chard, lamb fat crisps and caprini fresco cheese was another amazing dish I’ll come back for.

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For pudding both Ro and I were set on having one of the amazing sounding sundaes but they were all sold out (sob) so we had a rethink and settled on fritelle doughnuts for Ro and tiramisu for me.

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The doughnuts were rather compact and chewy but that could have been intentional, as neither of us have had Italian doughnuts before. The taste was lovely though and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and jam works every time. The tiramisu was really nice but lacked a little in presentation I thought.

I could definitely see some teething problems here, like the tables being too close together (it felt like we had dinner with, not next to, our neighbours) and the waiting staff didn’t seem to have worked out a routine yet, but that’s also the whole point of this trial run soft launch.

Food wise I think the savoury dishes were very good and thought out, whereas the puddings could have done with a little more work, however I’m still intrigued by those sundaes and hope they haven’t sold out on my next visit.

I have already planned my meal. Definitely lots of crudo, the kid goat ragu and the lamb. And that ice cream.

Veneta, 3 Norris St, St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4RJ

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Pre-dinner nibbles in Bologna

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On the Saturday in Bologna we went all out before dinner and had pre-dinner drinks and nibbles at three different places. There were so many things we wanted to eat and places to try and not enough time, so this was a good solution.

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We started with this little (yes, it was intended for one person but we shared it) charkuterie and cheese platter at Zerocinquantino Vino e Panino, and a glass of wine each. I love the fact that when you order ‘a glass of white wine’, the waiters ask if you want still or sparkling, as if it were water. I do like my sparkling wines though, and later this same evening Caroline introduced me to another Italian sparkling wine, besides prosecco;  franciacorta, with smaller bubbles. So nice!

On the platter we had mortadella, salami, serrano, a type of fresh cheese which I later identified as dolcelatte in a deli shop, a nice hard cheese and an amazing blue cheese called erborinato. Remember to try it when you’re in Italy! We also got to try the local tigelli bread which was nice but extremely filling.

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Next we stopped at a fishmongers on the same street, which sold fish and seafood ready to eat, like tartars, oysters, red prawns etc. And wine. But we just had some seafood. We both love the raw red prawns so had a plate of those each. They’re so sweet and juicy and absolutely delicious raw!

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We also tried a oyster each, I can’t remember what type or where it was from but it was really nice. The fresh shellfish was a great palate cleanser before our actual dinner though; we actually felt less full after the prawns than when we came into the shop.

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We had time for another quick stop before dinner so when we walked past  Casa Minghetti with it’s popular outside seating we decided to go inside for a glass of wine. Even though the restaurant (inside and outside) was full to the brim with people the staff welcomed us in and gave us some space at the bar counter. The atmosphere here was great – really friendly with a mixture of different types of people, good music and friendly staff.

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The wine was nice, and the cocktails they made looked great too. We also got three different types of snacks with our drink. It’s another thing I like about Italy, you always get snacks with your drink.

Zerocinquantino Vino e Panino, Via Pescherie vecchie 3/e, Bologna

Fiskaffären kan jag tyvärr inte hitta namnet på, men den ligger på Via Pescherie Vechie, snett tvärsöver gatan från Zerocinquantino, mot Via Drapperie till. 

Casa Minghetti, Piazza Minghetti, 1A, 40124 Bologna, Italy