Peter Morrell and a friend enjoy an excellent lunch in this stylish restaurant just south of the river
Florentine is keeping up the trend for the number of quality restaurants that have opened south of the Thames in the last 2-3 years. It is also in the doubly enviable position of being located in this culinary hotspot and it’s opposite Lambeth North tube station which is a mere seven minute ride from Piccadilly Circus.
The dining space is bright and modern with floor to ceiling windows, there is an open plan kitchen and in one corner an open flame oven for baking. The large number of diners in the restaurant gave it an upbeat, buzzy atmosphere, so I would urge you to book to guarantee a table.
Florentine offers all day dining and the items on the menu cater for people wanting breakfast, brunch, lunch, a quick snack or dinner in the evening, it’s all very flexible. There are nibbles you can enjoy with a drink like zucchini fritti, roast almonds and Gaeta green olives. Brunch is well catered for with an array of flatbreads, cooked in the oven and served with toppings like burrata, aubergine and tomatoes, and lamb, chilli, parsley and tzatziki.
There was a interesting list of starters, fried squid and tuna carpaccio were just two. My companion chose the tagliatelle and I had the Spanish ham. My friend’s pasta was superb, the tagliatelle is made in house and it was flavoured with girolles, parmesan and parsley. The wild mushrooms added a huge amount of depth to the dish.
My ham was something special, the Iberico Bellota Cana De Presa made by Cinco Jotas. This was slices of cured sausage made from the loin of the Pata Negra, acorn fed pig. I was impressed by this dish for two reasons, it had a lovely flavour and the fact it was produced by the highly respected Cinco Jotas showed that Florentine use genuine, high quality ingredients. I ordered a side of rustic bread flavoured with rosemary and sea salt which complemented the ham perfectly.
It was time for mains and from the impressive list both the grilled sea bass with asparagus and salsa verde, and the 220 gram grass-fed rib-eye that had been aged for 32 days were strong contenders. My friend eventually ordered the rump of lamb and I had spotted the full English breakfast in the eggs section of the menu. Not having eaten this classic for nine months I thought why not?
The lamb rump like the tagliatelle are both recent editions to the menu and apparently are going down a storm. The meat was pink and tender and served with smoked aubergine and a spicy harissa sauce. After finishing it my friend fully understood why it had gained instant popularity.
My full English was just as expected, a combo of two fried eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, portobello mushroom, baked beans, and sourdough bread was extremely satisfying. There was another full English available that must be totally unique, designed to be shared by four people the eggs are replaced by an ostrich egg!
And still on the subject of sharing another four person dish is the Herculean burger, a 2.2 kilogram monster served with Montgomery cheese, portobello mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, streaky bacon, black truffle, chips, sweet potatoes fries and five dips.
The drinks list is full of variety with a good slate of craft beers, bubbles including the English Chapel Down and both old and new world reds and whites. Our pairing for lunch was the entry level red, the Mezzogiorno primitivo from Puglia in southern Italy. It had good blackcurrant aromas in the bouquet with dark red fruit on the palate. The well balanced tannins made it smooth and it had a persistent finish.
I just couldn’t fit in dessert, appealing as the tiramisu and cheese cake looked but my companion did order the Venetian doughnuts with marsala cream. I did have a taste and they were delicious, very light with the cream adding another flavour dimension.
This was an excellent lunch with high quality food in comfortable surroundings and great service from the very friendly staff.
Although the sun is beating down I did take a quick look at the festive menus which have just been published. Starting from 12th November until 23rd December there will a seasonal lunch and two dinner options available and special menus on Christmas day and NYE. There are choices per course offering the same quality food as the standard all day menu. We will bring you more detailed news is October.
6 Hercules Road
London SE1 7DU
+44 (0)203 146 5800