Diciannove, Blackfriars

Hotel restaurants are often average. Diciannove at the Crowne Plaza hotel, however, is not. This Italian restaurant offers fresh and tasty Mediterranean food, that doesn’t promise innovation or modernity, but succeeds because of quality ingredients and traditional cooking skills. The prices reflect this casual style of cuisine and are reasonable considering the central city location of Blackfriars.

The white wine Gavi di Gavi, chosen by our waiter because “all the ladies love it,” was absolutely delicious. Light and refreshing without detracting from the flavour of the food, it suited our meal perfectly. We started on a selection of sharing dishes: super skinny courgette fritti, polenta chips, burrata with grilled aubergines and tomatoes and rosemary focaccia, it was an array of different textures and tastes, almost like a make your own Italian platter. The burrata was our favourite, particularly creamy and fresh, it needed an extra grind of black pepper, but nonetheless was a delicious start to the meal.

The menu has several signature dishes, my friend was talked into trying the fillet of beef with soft polenta and seasonal mushrooms, while I opted for roast Luganica sausage ravioli with pinenuts and sage. The ravioli had a lovely herby buttery aroma but the pasta was over-stuffed with meat and it was simply too much for me to manage. The beef had a lovely velvety texture paired perfectly with rustic mushrooms and polenta (an ingredient I believe is under-used)!

Dessert was a struggle, a selection of three of the top puddings were delivered to our table in glasses. If only we had had the inclination to devour them… Tiramisu lacked coffee and sponge with an overload of cream, chocolate mousse with chocolate salami was as absurdly rich as it sounds, but the Zabaione lemon curd and custard dessert was surprisingly light, fluffy and tasty.

There are only a few disadvantages as a restaurant reviewer… the most painful of which is disappointing the eager-to-please waiters. At Diciannove the staff were keen to feed us up with every Italian delicacy from the kitchen. We witnessed forlorn faces as they took away half full plates.

Despite its slight drawbacks and slight lack of atmosphere, if I was staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel on business, I’d be delighted to discover Diciannove restaurant on site, a friendly and appetising Italian eatery.

More information here: www.diciannove19.com

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