Resto 11 Al Duca, St. James’s

St. James’s again! This time after the wonderful Soviet show at the RA where the best stuff (apart from Malevich who never stops making you think even after a glut of him at Tate recently) was unfamiliar. Especially Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and his still lifes. Just wonderful.

Dratted February rain meant we didn’t want to stagger far from Piccadilly but nor did we want to go somewhere too pricy (definitely ruling out Boulestin!) or packed with tourists. Al Duca fitted the bill. The room is surprisingly big once you’re through the door and we got a nice table by the window. Plenty of linen and a round of excellent bread while you’re having a look at the menu is the sign of a civilised operation. Fellow diners were a smattering of people out for the evening with some of the post-work crowd from the offices round about.

The food is classic Italian with (I’m hazarding a guess, I’m no expert except for knowing that they love a bit of donkey in Vicenza) the emphasis towards the north. I could have any or all of it, it all looked good. In the end I took octopus to start and turbot off the bone for main. The octopus had a surprising (in a good way) chilli tinge to it. And the turbot arrived with a dinky portion of saffron potatoes that made me wish I’d ordered something more substantial for a starter. But it was very very good.

Al Duca scores highly for service. The Maître d’ was happy to chat through the wine for us before we picked out something from the Alto Aldige which slipped down very nicely. As did the high class grappa that we had with coffee. It’s worth going to Al D for the grappa alone – they’ve got a card of about a dozen and we picked a golden smooth beast that was a far cry from some of the rotgut I’ve slopped down over the years. A big thank you for the waiter who recommended it to us when he could have picked something twice as expensive.

9/10

#Food #London #Italian

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

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