Peter Morrell enjoys one of his most memorable meals in this charming, friendly restaurant
A good friend and I recently went to this well-regarded restaurant in the heart of Marylebone, an area that exudes quiet sophistication. The restaurant is run by husband and wife team Giulia Isola and Eduardo Tuccillo. Eduardo’s first introduction to food was in his grandmother’s kitchen in Naples where she fed 16 grandchildren. He went on to become an international chef cooking in places as diverse as New York and South Africa and has been awarded two AA Rosettes. He and wife started Twist Kitchen five years ago and it has now got a formidable local reputation.
There are two floors, we ate in the lively ground level dining space, there is also a cosy dining space on the lower floor. The décor had a warm, rustic feel to it accented with Spanish tiles. Giulia, who runs the front of house, was a welcoming and charming host. The style of food is centric around Mediterranean tapas but not limited by it. There are distinctive fusion elements from Latin America, Asia and Japan and much of the cooking is done on the enclosed charcoal fuelled Josper grill which adds a distinctive smoky dimension to the food.
The menu is a list of plates grouped by category – Nibbles, Fish, Meat, Vegetables, Charcuterie and Cheeses, Butcher, Side Dishes and Desserts. Portion wise the plates are on the generous side of medium and Giulia recommended two or three per person.
We started with pickled Boquerones, anchovies from the highest rated area in the world to catch them, the Cantabrian sea. They were plump, packed with flavour and enhanced by a sauce made with Amalfi lemons. These little treasures were complemented by two very moreish homemade breads, a wholemeal and a light as a feather rosemary focaccia, they were accompanied by a dish of extra-virgin olive oil for dipping.
Our next course was from the daily specials board and it was while eating this I realised that the food in Twist Kitchen was truly exceptional. The course was flavourful fatty tuna belly with Osceitre caviar and soya truffle dressing. The dish was simple and at the same time sensational.
We moved on to Japanese scallops with Mazara red prawns, cucumber and liquorice. Again high-quality ingredients were combined into a harmonious whole. The scallops were in ceviche style, the prawns from Sicily had a unique taste and the cucumber and liquorice were at once fresh and intriguing.
Our culinary journey of discovery continued, this time with grass-fed Chateaubriand carpaccio, smoked ricotta, pistachio and ponzu. It was so well constructed, the beef was moist and tender and the smoked ricotta a revelation.
Next up was a vegetarian dish, asparagus spears and shitake mushrooms with a subtle Parmesan cheese sauce. A dish like this could convert the most dedicated carnivore, it was highly satisfying.
The next offering not only looked good it was delicious, deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese, mint and Amalfi lemon, and drizzled with honey. This was delightful, the ultra-light tempura batter gave it a light crunch and the filling in the flowers was bright and uplifting.
What followed next was equally good, a Wiltshire lamb chop which had been cooked on the Josper grill giving it an intense smoky taste. It was served with burnt aubergine and green harissa lending to the dish a north African character. We had a side with this, grilled cauliflower with a coconut and peanut sauce. An almost indescribably good combo.
There was a well-curated wine list, the bulk coming from the old world, particularly France and Italy. Our pairing for the meal was the red Pieno Sud, Nero d’Avola from Sicily. This was a medium bodied wine showing good cherry and plum aromas in the bouquet. On the palate the fruit flavours were joined by spicy notes. Well balanced tannins made the wine very smooth and the finish was strong and persistent.
We just about had room for a dessert, my dining companion chose the cheesecake with a topping of mango and served with black olive caramel, he declared it delicious. My choice was from the range of ice creams made in-house. There were two scoops, intense pistachio and mysterious smoked almond, both very good.
After we had finished I spoke with chef Eduardo. His philosophy was that his simple cooking style reflects the quality of the ingredients, letting the natural flavours and textures speak for themselves. As he explores ever-varying fusion combinations, the beauty of the raw material remains constant.
I agree totally with Eduardo’s philosophy, the innovative food was not overworked but fresh and natural with the flavour of each ingredient being separate and precise.
This had been a unique dining experience, almost without parallel, and I can thoroughly recommend Twist Kitchen. Its strong local popularity deserves to be London wide.
42 Crawford Street
W1H 1JW London
Phone: 020 7723 3377