THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: La Tagliata, Spitalfields

There is something uniquely comforting about good, honest Italian cooking. Cliches are cliches for a reason, and so it goes with the traditions of Italian cuisine – bowls of flavour, boards of unassuming simplicity, two or three ingredients getting along joyfully on the plate.

La Tagliata

La Tagliata (nestled in the backstreets of Spitalfields) chimes with a lot of what’s good about cooking from across Italy: quality produce treated properly, a family-inspired menu, and a decent wine list to accompany. Starting with the antipasti for two, our table became a whistle stop tour of the Italian mainland – spicy Roman sausage sat alongside Lombardy bresaola and Sicilian salami. The accompanying focaccia did what focaccia does, namely soak up olive oil (this one a fruity Gustaldo variety from Puglia).

La Tagliata

Tagliatelle with prawns and courgettes was light and well-seasoned, the shellfish sauce adding depth, and “La Sublime”, rare steak thinly sliced and served with truffle salt, rosemary, and balsamic was very close if not right on the money name-wise. A warm chocolate cake made every effort to upstage its predecessors, but didn’t quite do enough. The Maldrino Montepulciano went down a storm, however.

The spaces in La Tagliata itself is refined, relaxed and airy – no mean feat considering the tight footprint it occupies. With the menu drawing on childhood memories from the team of Italian chef/owners, La Tagliata is perfect for those who want their trattoria experience a little grownup, but still with the same comfort flavours.

More information and book a table at La Tagliata here.

Written by James Bomford.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: R Chocolate Afternoon Tea

With the trend of afternoon teas hitting almost maximum saturation around London, it’s always nice to find something unique amongst the delightful but same-y throngs of Victoria sponges and scones. R Chocolate have just the thing. Nestled in the beautiful streets of Belgravia, lies the gourmet chocolate shop complete with its own dessert bar (only open on weekends). The shop is elegant without being pretentious and provides the perfect environment for one of the most luxurious afternoon teas you’ll ever have.

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So what makes it unique? R Chocolate have managed to find their own little niche in the afternoon tea industry, and that niche is incorporating chocolate into every component that is served. The traditional cake stand is stacked chocabloc with delicious miniature versions of chocolatey cakes and treats; from an 80% Grand Cru mousse with hazelnut biscuit and sea salt caramel centre (my personal favourite), to the cacao nib scones with clotted cream and chocolate infused raspberry jam, there is something to satisfy any and every chocolate craving that you could have.

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Now, as your mouth waters at the description of these delicious treats, you must, dear reader, I’m sure, be thinking of how to quench that insatiable thirst that comes to anyone when you’ve indulged in chocolate… R Chocolate’s answer? Chocolate in a bottle, otherwise known as CIAB. Served as an alternative to traditional champagne, which is also available should you choose to bypass full chocolate overload, CIAB is a French sparkling wine infused with chocolate (remember when I said every component of the afternoon tea was chocolatey?). The flavour is subtle enough that you don’t feel like you’re drinking a Yazoo, but it also compliments the wine flavour very well. For those willing to try something new and a bit different, I couldn’t recommend it more.

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Following the feast of chocolate goodies, the R Chocolate team then offers their selection of hot drinks; from their extensive selection of teas, (yes, there’s a chocolate tea!) to coffees and, of course, hot chocolate, there is a myriad of ways to end your afternoon the right way. My guest and I figured that ‘when in R…’ Chocolate, that we had to try their hot chocolate. I chose the hazelnut hot chocolate, otherwise known as molten Nutella, whilst my guest went for the more exotic and infinitely trendier option of chilli hot chocolate. Both were exquisite and were just further examples of just how well R Chocolate does what their name suggests.

If you have any chocolate-lovers in your life who deserves a special treat, look no further than R Chocolate’s afternoon tea; it ticks all the right (chocolate) boxes.

More information and book a table here.

Written by Thoroughly Modern Miss, Angelica Bomford.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: Amici Miei, Hoxton

Nestled in the trendy streets of Hoxton lies Amici Miei, a seemingly humble and unimposing Italian restaurant. Whilst it may seem humble and unimposing, the quality and vast selection of food and drink would lend itself to even the showiest of restaurant fronts. Start your meal off with one of their many delicious cocktails – special mention goes to the passionfruit martini – whilst enjoying a selection of ciccheti (Italian tapas) which include the Italian classics bruschetta and polpette, as well as more unusual choices such as the Gnocco Fritto con Proschiutto di Parma, (deep fried sourdough breadsticks with some of the best Parma ham I’ve ever tried) which went beautifully with one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, burrata with heritage tomatoes. Simply put, the burrata at Amici Miei was the best I’ve had this side of the Mediterranan Sea.

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We ordered the ciccheti first so that we would have plenty of time to peruse the extensive main course menu full of pasta, pizza, meat and fish dishes. Even then, we had to ask for extra deciding time… twice. Following excellent guidance from the servers, we eventually decided on the Spaghetti Allo Scoglio (seafood spaghetti) and the Romana pizza (a sourdough pizza topped with sausage, spinach, gorgonzola cheese and fresh chillies). Let’s start with the pasta dish; all of the pasta at Amici Miei is made from scratch – something you can immediately notice when trying any of their dishes. I’m sure there’s probably a very interesting scientific explanation, but the pasta seemed to soak up the sauce in a way shop bought pasta fails to do. The mussels, clams, prawns and squid were all individually cooked to perfection and the light sauce of tomato and garlic complimented the dish perfectly. Moving on to the pizza; Amici Miei’s sourdoguh pizzas are made using a slow rising process, proving over a minimum of 48 hours and then cooked at 450 degrees Celsius in a traditional wood fired oven. And believe me… the wait is worth it. The lightness of the dough allowed for the delicious, fresh flavours of the toppings shine and before we knew it, our plates were practically licked clean.

amici miei pasta

Now, you must be wondering, dear reader, how on earth we could fit any more in? I have one word for you: Tiramisu. Once again taking advice from the ever helpful servers, we ordered the Seadas Di Ricotta, a warm puff pastry filled with ricotta, cinnamon and lemon zest served with honey, and a classic Tiramisu. Whilst the Seadas Di Ricotta was delicious and satisfying, the true MVP of the desserts, or dare I say it, whole evening, was the Tiramisu. I should probably now give you a bit of context; in past dining experiences I have shied away from Tiramisu, often disliking the stodgy ladyfingers or the unnecessarily sweet cream, but this, my friends, this Tiramisu turned me into a true convert. The lightness of the cream, the rich and sweet taste of the coffee infused sponge and the undeniably good addition of chocolate took this dessert above and beyond.

amici miei pudding

I would not recommend this restaurant if you’ve come to Hoxton for the new fashionable food trends that we read about on Buzzfeed, however, if you want a hearty, homely, and incredibly well cooked meal of traditional Italian fare, I could not recommend this restaurant more highly. There’s a reason why the name of the restaurant translates to ‘my friends’, and that’s because once you try this restaurant you want to introduce all of your friends to it. If travelling to the trendy streets of Hoxton seems too much, they also deliver, so there really is no excuse to not try out this fantastic restaurant.

Written by Angelica Bomford.

More information and book a table here.