Friday, 14 September 2012

Lardo, London

Courgette, goats' curd & anchovy pizza

Any place where nobody raises an eyebrow at someone knocking back a gin cocktail with a slice of  Melanzane alla Parmigiana is my type of place.  Lardo is the kind of restaurant where you can just relax and enjoy simple, good food. The cooking is consistent and confident, service is knowledgable and kindly, everyone knows what they're doing and they give every impression that they're happy to be there.  In short, it's very hard to find a bad word for Lardo.

Opened by Eliza Flanagan, formerly general manager of Bistrotheque, and Young British Foodie, Matt Bedell, in July this year, the menu is short and not too stretching.  Head Chef Damian Currie, formerly at Zucca and St John Bread & Wine should ensure a keen following.

Carnivores could be disappointed unless they make the most of the charcuterie, though I hear there is suckling pig to be had some days.  With carefully sourced pork from Graham Waddington of Native Breeds, and a preference for the rare, curly-haired, Mangalitza pig, the team spent a year working to perfect their own charcuterie.  The resultant coppa, cured loin, salami and lardo are served up as small plates and sometimes used on pizzas. Charcuterie and Pizza pretty much sums up Lardo.  A madly glitzy disco ball oven squats in the corner of the open kitchen, its gaping jaws hungry for wood throughout service.  Thin, crispy disks of dough are draped with thoughtful seasonal toppings.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana
There are a few non-meat small plates too - with an emphasis on the small.  On two separate visits we ate a good slice of Melanzane alla Parmigiana served at just the right temperature to appreciate the flavours; a beautifully fresh plate of Broad beans, pea shoots, pecorino and mint served with pretty good focaccia; and three of the pizzas - Courgette, goats' cheese, and anchovy; a Lardo with rocket; and a classic Margherita.  All the pizzas were good but it was the most beautiful to look at, courgette (pictured above), which became a little dry and boring towards the end.  Nothing a slug of good olive oil wouldn't have fixed.  As yet I've failed to get as far as the puddings.

Housed in the ground floor of the warehouse-like Arthaus building, it's a 5 minute walk from London Fields railway station.  Come December, that lovely disco ball of fire in the corner is going to make Lardo the cosiest winter spot in Hackney.

You can expect to pay around £4-7 for small plates and £8 or £9 for pizzas, so it makes for a very reasonable meal.  There's a decent range of European wines on the drinks list plus freshly squeezed juices, but so far I'm afraid I've failed to progress beyond those Limonade and Bitter Lemon Sipsmith gin cocktails.

197-205 Richmond Road
London  E8 3NJ
Tel: 020 8985 2683
Open 7 days a week