When Square Meals invited me out for a meal with fellow foodies a couple of weeks ago I was excited. Heading out of the bustle of Covent Garden station on Tuesday night into the fresh air, I was looking forward to the brief walk to the restaurant. On route I admired the beautiful Christmas decorations adorning Covent Garden Market.
When I learnt that the restaurant was Four to Eight an Italian in Covent Garden I was a little bit apprehensive that this would be yet another soulless Italian to add to the list.
Finding a good Italian restaurant in London should be easy, right? Wrong, actually there are lots of awful Italian restaurants. They do a good pretence, from the outside and the interior, well they look the part but the food just doesn't measure up. I have a few firm favourites in London so far, anything else just falls well short of the mark.
Four to Eight has two levels, with the entrance level housing a bar it's perfect for stopping off for a quick drink before the theatre. The restaurant is right by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Lion King so a perfect dinner destination. On entering, we were housed downstairs with a great view of the chefs busy at work.
Being amongst those who love to talk about food, photograph their food and then have a commentary on what they have just eaten is my idea of a good night out. It does make me laugh watching other people's reactions to how food bloggers behave, all standing up on mass taking pics and quietly tweeting on our phones. To others we look like the most antisocial people going when in fact we are fully immersed and enjoying everyone's company.
We were greeted by three antipasto: Farinata, Salumi and Arancini.
For starters the restaurant offered many things I was keen to try and after lots of chopping and changing my mind I settled on: Venison Tartare, beetroot, shallots, bitter lettuce and fermented pear.
When the Tartare arrived it was visually different to what I had expected. In this tartare the meat was cut into tiny pieces and had a horseradish mayonnaise, but was wonderfully tasty all the same. The addition of the shallot to the venison and pickled beetroot was a perfect accompaniment.
Now whilst the restaurant has a wonderful wine list I would be tempted to increase the quantity of Italian wines. My favourite Italian restaurants have a plethora of Italian regional wines, I always think that the weighting has to be in favour of the restaurants origin.
My main was an easy choice, Grilled Spatchcock baby Chicken with Kohlrabi Slaw.
Wow this was perfectly cooked, the chicken was moist and really tasty. The fennel salad was wonderful and it had a tart citrus tang that was perfect with the chicken.
The Kohlrabi Slaw was delicious and creamy but I am not sure it went perfectly with the chicken. In part this could have been that I ate the chicken and then the slaw as two separates. Charlotte potatoes would be a better accompaniment.
Others around the table opted for Sea Bream, roast lettuce, semolina gnocchi and salsa verde.
Beef Shin Ragu, pappardelle and nasturtium leaf.
The beef shin ragu around the table was a resounding success but those who had it would have liked a richer sauce.
The desserts menu had lots of yummy offerings and left lots of the table struggling to decide. DipsDines and Eatcookexplore did a typical foodie trick which is when you can't decide have three of them. Well not quite, they missed out the White Truffle Rice Pudding, which I had.
Now this foodie loves rice pudding, my favourite being rice cream. Warm rice pudding, vanilla ice cream and if you are pushing the boat out raspberry
jam. So the choice for me was easy. The rice pudding here was lovely but the white truffle ice cream totally didn't work. Now how do I describe this, think of mushroom ice cream and you would be somewhere close.
The Amalfi Lemon Tart was a hit. With bloggers sharing that it had the right balance of tartness and the sorbet being a great companion.
Thanks Four to Eight for hosting our delicious blogger dinner and Square Meals for inviting me. I am pleased to share that initial impressions can be wrong. The quality of the food was excellent and the company was great too.
1-5 Catherine street
Thank you very much to Four to Eight restaurant for a wonderful meal. Our meal was complimentary for the purposes of a review, but this is an honest and fair reflection of the restaurant and our meal.