Resto 4 Zizzi, St Paul’s
Marking time before a visit to the excellent Cézanne (or Cezanne, they seem to label him interchangeably) exhibition we were back in our old post-school pick-up stomping ground of St. Paul’s. But my God, what has the pandemic done to St Paul’s! I don’t want to go all Harry Lime on it but the drinking/eating scene around St. P has been devastated. The Front Page (formerly The Horn Tavern) gone. The Rising Sun, which I would have thought indestructible, has been turned into some crap bar. So thank heavens for The Cockpit, which remains unchanged and excellent, though more prone to tourists than previously.
Similarly, restaurants have taken a knock. What’s remains appear to be the biggest chains (PEx, Café Rouge) while what’s left elsewhere tends to the takeaway side of things. So options were pretty limited close to the Millennium Bridge. We decided to meet at Café Rouge so I rolled up at 4 o’clock only to be told (charmlessly) they could only serve me if I had a reservation. Who the f*ck books Café Rouge?!?!? It’s the very definition of the last resort.
Oh well, we walked a bit further to see what was open in New Change. Not a great deal, though M&S was doing a roaring trade. Upstairs even Caffè Concerto had given up the ghost but Zizzi was open and empty and we were time poor so we did that.
Things didn’t get off to a good start. ‘Have you been to Zizzi before?’ ‘Yes, quite a while ago (in fact 2013).’ ‘You order online now, just scan the QR code to start.’ Alright – like Olga in Huis Clos I realised that the customer was advised to do the work themselves. So I entered all the shit and was just about to press ‘Order’ when another server came up to take my order. ‘But I was told to use the QR code.’ ‘I can take your order.’ ‘No, I’ll do it on my phone, I’ve just got to press the button.’ I tried to do it but it didn’t work because the second server had opened an order for our table and that took precedent. I felt like I was in a high-tech episode of Bodger & Badger and braced myself for an onslaught of mashed potato. Thankfully, it wasn’t on the menu.
Order sorted the server brought us a bottle of wine and then went off, I thought to look for a corkscrew. Apparently not – the old boy not being with us (he’s a maniac for the tire bouchon) I had to pursue her for a corkscrew. ‘Did I forget to open it?! Hahahahahah.’ Fortunately, it was a charming laugh and this signalled a pick up in service, there were no more mishaps.
To business. A starter of arancini wasn’t a patch on ‘O Ver (yep, still an irritating name) but was okay. The olives were superior. My linguine had a satisfying heat and a medium amount of prawns. The Frascati was fine for 20 quid. Would I go back? Probably not. Would I recommend it for a good, quick, cheap-ish meal if you’re in the area. Possibly, it’s got to be better than Café Rouge.
To see where else I’ve been click on the google map below.
f1insburyparker View All →
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).
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