Review of 'Piccolino'

In the Oxford Circus area just before a show at the Palladium we were looking for somewhere nearby to eat. We eventually headed over the Heddon Street, a small pedestrian-only U-bend of a road to the west of Regent Street, tucked out of the way so many do not even realise it is there. There are always good options and were headed for the middle-eastern Momo but it was not yet opened for dinner (it was 5 pm) and we only had a limited amount of time before our performance so we ended up next door in the rather buzzy “Piccolino”.

We were shown to a table outdoors given that it was actually not too bad an evening, despite being late September, not realising, of course, that those outside often tend to smoke. Luckily this proved to be only a small inconvenience though the biggest inconvenience was in actually placing our order in the first place with our having to wait about 15-20 minutes after being seated before anyone even took our drink order. It seemed to be a bit busy but still, drinks? In the copious amount of time we were waiting we looked over the rather attractive book that was the dinner menu (for some reason they did even give us a copy of the “Lunch and Early Evening” menu containing a 2 and 3 course set menu even though it was still valid). It consists of several pages explaining their philosophy and ingredients before getting down to the serious issue of selling people food. The food bit was on three (double-sided) pages with typical Italian options: “Cold Counter” (including an anti-pasti plate), Crostacei (shellfish), Carne (meat, non-steak options), Sides, Bistecca (steak), Sharing (nibbles), Antipasti (again), Pizza, Salad, Pasta, Risotto, and Pesce e Crostacei (seafood and shellfish mains).

Not being too hungry we decided on a starter and a single main course for each of us…if only we could find a waiter…they all seem to be busy talking to other guests or cleaning tables, not showing any particular interest in us, though it is hard to tell as they have not even talked to us (to say, for example, “just a minute”) since we were seated how long ago?

Anyway, on the recommendation of a member of staff who we eventually managed to persuade to take our order, we started with an order of their simply described “Pane” (bread), this featuring “Ciabatta bread, garlic & rosemary focaccia, Sardinian flatbread, grissini & basil pesto (v)” which was remarkably tasty if slightly oily. At £4.75 this has to be the bargain of the menu with easily enough on the wooden presentation board for the two of us. The deep macha-coloured pesto was full of flavour and really complemented the two breads. We had a side bowl of (“Giant Apulian Cerignola”) olives (£5) which were probably some of the best I have had in London though they were more pit than flesh they had only a slightly salty flavour.

Starter

For my main I had the “Risotto ai Fruitti Di Mare” (£10.50 small/£16.00 main) which included “Isle of Man scallops, king prawns, mussels, white wine & chilli”. This was a good sized portion with a large amount of delicious seafood that were cooked perfectly though, unfortunately, I can't say the same of the risotto itself which was slightly underdone and resembled more a slightly overcooked rice than the creamy gloopiness of a correctly prepared risotto. Interesting that despite the presence of chilli I could taste none of the heat. Hum, well, there you go.

Risotto

After a good deal of consideration my companion settled on the “Trofiette Con Pollo” (£16) pasta with “Grilled chicken, vegetables, pecorino cream & pine nuts” which was another large potion but very delicious if, in my opinion, slightly bland. You could certainly taste the cheese (incidentally, we were asked if we wanted Parmesan with our dishes when they came to the table and we both opted for it only to be slightly disappointed it was not fresh grated but, instead, came pre-ground in a small bowl then sprinkled over our plates…though they did let us say “when”).

Trofiette Con Pollo

In the good weather, they have seating outdoors (where we were) but the ground floor inside has the kitchen open to one side and a small bar area to the other. Another seating area in the basement near the toilets (incidentally, these were were reasonably clean but in poor repair with a toilet out of order in the ladies and a stall door not working in the mens) was unused during our visit.

Kitchen

For drinks I had a virgin pear and elderflower mojito (£4.75) that was great tasting though far more ice than drink, and we had a bottle of sparkling San Pelengino (water) on the table (£4.50), noting that free bottles of tap water were also available for diners.

The bill for the two of us came to £60.19 which included an optional service charge of 12.5% which is actually quite reasonable for the area – Anything at about the £30/person range is a bargain.

Downstairs

So, in summary, poor service in parts (though great once they had finally taken our order, even getting our bill was quite easy), disappointing dishes though good sized portions, with excellent seafood. A bit hit or miss but I would be persuaded to give it a go again.

Rating:

Review Date: 2019-09-21


Cuisine: Italian

Address: 21 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BG ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Oxford Circus TUBE Piccadilly Circus

Location: London (England) - Mayfair

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Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7287 4029

URL: http://individualrestaurants.com/piccolino/heddon-street-london/