We were back on the right side of the river to see the Hispanic World show at the RA. The exhibition is a real rush through the artistic output of five hundred years in a big chunk of the earth. The expected highlights were a couple of El Grecos and a room of Goya perfection. What I wasn’t anticipating was being captivated by a row of ironmongered door knockers and a weirdly modern looking Wedding at Canaa by the Baroque Mexican artist Nicolàs de Correa.
For food we couldn’t book at Pizarro so decided to check out one of the places in the new(-ish) block in St James’s. ‘O Ver (they have an explanation for the name on the menu which I can’t remember) skews to Neapolitan, with a heavy emphasis on pizza. In fact the massive pizza oven is the first thing you see when you walk through the door, complete with uniformed pizzaiolo. But we weren’t there for pizza we wanted Food.
A couple of curious things before getting down to that food. The soundtrack was big band standards combined with Rat Pack favourites, which added to a glassy high-ceilinged room put us more in mind of New York than Napoli. And the jakes had the curious set up of one trap and two sinks. The suggestion from across the table was that maybe the extra sink was actually a urinal? Maigret and the Extra Sink is a yet unwritten title and we left the matter to one side.
Our server was a trainee with the look (and skin) of a fourteen year old but the haircut of a Napoli left back. And thankfully not the neck tattoos. We asked to share the Neapolitan street food starter and he assured us that that wouldn’t be enough for two, would we like something else? No, we wouldn’t, in that case we’d like two NSFSs. This seemed to fox him and I thought he was going to refuse us this stodge mountain. He overcame his desire to order for us and gave way to our appetite for carbs (it was a very cold day) scrawling down rabbit for me and black cod across the way as mains. Then I ordered a Gewürztraminer from Alto Adige, which further confounded him. I commented that it’s from the mountainous part of Italy. “From Alsace?!” he asked. “No”, I gently assured him, “From the north, near the border with Austria.” Maybe he was so Neapolitan he couldn’t even conceive that there was somewhere in Italy beyond Rome that wasn’t in another country. Or he could just have been thick. He said he’d practice pronouncing Gewürtztraminer and scurried off to get the booze.
The Napoli street food came in three flavours. Deep fried courgette flower stuffed with volcanic cheese, arancini flavoured with truffle and cheesy potato croquettes. The pick of the three was the arancini, which was the fluffiest, most delicate flavoured I’ve ever had. They erased the memory of the cannonballs I’d once been served in Glasgow which required a herculean performance to ‘walk off’. But they were all delicious and in the in-between size for a 1 person/2 person order.
Now to the rabbit. I LOVE RABBIT. Something I pointed out more than once to the staff. The manager explained to me that their other branch is in Borough and the chef goes to Borough market each morning to pick the ingredients for that day’s special. Well, chapeau to the chef because he did the rabbit proud – two stacks of meat with a tasty jus, earthy artichokes and a few spud discs. I was in rabbit heaven in spite of a couple of cheeky bones making it past the sous chef. The wine was noticeably good, with a hint of rose water but not too sweet.
As we had a glass of wine still to drink we went for a Red Passion sorbet, which was a mix of Campari and blood orange that worked to perfection. This was an enjoyable meal and I’d love to go back to try their pizza menu over lunch the next time I’m at the library.
To see where else I’ve been click on the google map below.
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).