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Test Driving Bernardi's - much more than just a great neighbourhood Italian

Test Driving Bernardi's - a great Italian restaurant in a foodie street

What can you tell us about Bernardi's?

It comes from Gabriel and Marcello Bernardi who are best known for being two of the founders of Cubitt House - the group behind The Thomas Cubitt, The Pantechnicon Rooms and more. They've taken over a prime space in Connaught Village for their new Italian restaurant and bar. Upstairs it's a comfy Italian restaurant - with cocktails and bar dining too - while downstairs is a rather swanky (and huge) bar. 

In the kitchen is Sabrina Gidda, a two time Roux Scholarship finalist. She's put on a traditional Italian menu here, with her own twist. In charge of the restaurant is Zoe Charlton-Brown, previously at Café Murano, under whose leadership the front of house is giving pitch-perfect service.

Where is it?

It's on Seymour Street and the nearest tube is Marble Arch.

This street has quietly turned into one of the most concentrated areas of good food in London this year. We've recently seen Lurra open with the new Zetter Townhouse opening just around the corner too. But with Donostia, The Lockhart and Vinoteca on the same stretch of road, locals and anyone else heading here is spoiled for choice. 

Where should we meet for a drink? 

Pretty much any of the other nearby bars. We'd probably take in the counter at Lurra or the downstairs bar at Lockhart, Showdown, as our primary go-to places. But Vinoteca's equally good if you fancy a glass of wine, and if you're after a more traditional cocktail, the Zetter Townhouse is only 2-3 minutes around the corner. 

And where should we sit? 

There's some very nice counter dining space by the bar which is perfect if you're dropping in for a quick bite or dining on your own. Otherwise we'd recommend one of the booths which have some of the comfiest seating we've enjoyed in a restaurant recently. So grab one of those if you can.  

What about the food?

The food was pretty much excellent throughout on our visit. We'd certainly recommend kicking off with some cicchetti at either the upstairs or downstairs bar. The pumpkin and Gorgonzola arancini were pleasingly gooey and there was a lovely light touch on the courgette fritters that went brilliantly with the balsamic mayo.

As for the main events - the top dishes on our visit were:

  • A selection of three market fish crudo (£16.50) - this is an absolute must have. A huge platter of salmon, seabass and tuna for two to share. It's VERY generous. Even popping into the bar just for this would be recommended.
  • Charred squid, garlic, parsley and pepperoncino (£8.50) - a gutsy starter you won't want to share
  • Tarragon gnocchi, rabbit ragu, pancetta (£17 - or £9 as a starter) - this was strongly recommended to us and it's easy to see why. Again, a generous portion with big chunks of rabbit
  • Lemon sole in a minestrone soup (£18) would be a great dish if you were aiming to make it through to dessert

We did have a few sides, but on reflection we really didn't need those (unless you feel you must have a little greenery).

Whatever you do, leave some spot for dessert - both were pretty light so we recommend saving a spot for them, particularly the Guanduja mousse, bitter chocolate and vanilla cream (£8) which was lovely.  

And drinks?

It's definitely worth kicking things off with a cocktail - a lot of thought has gone into their house cocktails and you can tell they're proud of them. Of those, the Mostro is the one we'd really recommend - vodka, preserved tomato vine in sweet vinegar, moscato, Belsazar Rose vermouth and Campari onion. Odd, but in a very good way. 

There's also a big selection of vermouth on the menu, and a wide range of wine by the glass and carafe - 500ml starting at £12 for the house Frentano Abruzzo.

Overall?

We left Bernardi's immedietely wanting to revisit - which is as good a recommendation as you can get. We've heard great things about the vitello tonnato here, so that's a good enough reason as any to return. The food was very good and well priced for the area, and the service was absurdly lovely - just four weeks in they were turning folk away on a Tuesday night and we could already see returning locals being welcomed warmly..

Whether popping in for a quick bite at the bar or for dinner at the buzzing restaurant Bernardi's is yet another great reason to visit that area of London now called Connaught Village. 

  

Bernardi's is at 62 Seymour Street, London W1H 5BN and you can book on 020 3826 7940. For more from them, follow them on Twitter @BernardisLondon.

Hot Dinners were invited to Bernardi's. Prices were correct at the time of writing. 

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