Manteca: Opening of London’s coolest new restaurant

I get out at our end meal at Manteca that half of the duo behind this amazing thing restaurant is David Carter of the famous Smokestak. Suddenly, everything about Manteca made sense. Not necessarily because there are any culinary overlap (Smokestak is an American BBQ restaurant while Manteca is Italian with a broader European influence), but rather because both restaurants confidently fill two culinary gaps in London.

Manteca started as a pop-up, with temporary operations across Central London, before taking over Pizza Express Location. You wouldn’t have guessed the place’s former life produced small pizzas that were praised by many and Prince Andrew. They’ve done a great job of matching, including a largely muted yellow wood color palette that brings the focus to the center – allowing the kitchen to take center stage and let the rest of the space out. almost completely emotionless. Although, they could have kept the original decor, not changed things a bit, and I still think the place will be empty on a Saturday lunchtime because you really don’t come here for study interior design. You are here for the good food.

Manteca has influences from other London restaurants – there’s a bit of St John in its nose-to-tail approach, a little Trullo in it, a little hint of Brawn – but it feels largely personal and very private. This is Italian food for those who like to complain that Italian food is boring. Especially since I don’t really call it Italian. I can say Manteca makes London food with a strong Italian flair. It’s fun, it’s creative, the menu has the perfect pasta selection (more on that later) but it doesn’t take it too seriously, and that’s what ultimately strikes.

In many ways, the restaurant is also a place to practice oxymoron. The menu feels long but short, meaty but vegan-friendly, playful yet serious. There are many courses that seem to dance around the pasta section – before it, after it, but are certainly designed to complement it. All the charcuterie are made in-house – I was dining with a pescetarian friend so sadly couldn’t try any this time, but from what I saw around me, it was a success. scary. This should be ordered with the focaccia that I’ve had my eye on as its large slabs have been paraded about to this place, and it certainly lived up to expectations; Soft, dense, soaked in olive oil and salt, this is one of the best in town.

There’s a bunch of small plates, filled with things you want to eat right away. The puntarelle alla romana plant turns everything else green – thanks in part to the vinegar it’s been infused with. The crunchy stalks are thinly sliced ​​and seem to be bathed in a rich, sour-tasting sauce thanks to the addition of a few crispy anchovies. . I have recently come to the conclusion that acid is one of my favorite flavors, and this plate of food is delicious and actually sings a whistle for this part of me. It’s also refreshingly simple, celebrating delicious produce and undeniably simple flavor combinations. I had to downplay my pescetarian eating partner on one factor; pig skin ragu. Having read about it before I arrived, I couldn’t look past it on the menu, and boy did it deliver. The product of a desire to take advantage of every part of the animal, ragu is infused with the fatness of the skin, yet balanced, thanks in part to the acidity of the tomato. A canoe with pig skin bubbles on top is almost comically large, but it’s the perfect receptacle for the bold sweetness of ragu.

(Molly Codyre)

Back to meat-free options; There’s a crostino covered with home-made ricotta, juicy seasonings of citrus and olive oil that are an absolute knockout. It’s one of those dishes that you order and expect it to taste good but don’t expect it to hit any special notes – this one did. There are other items that are not ordered but are coveted; Steamed mussels nduja, fennel sausage with quince (especially this will be first on my list when I return to a slightly more carnivorous person) and pork head fritti seem like the dishes to go. necessary if not only because the bust of its cousin was hanged outside the front door.

Some people may think pasta is overrated, personally I am a huge fan of this dish. I also agree that it can be difficult to make pasta particularly enjoyable, so when someone does it, it feels even better. I could say Manteca shows up in pasta dishes, but this wouldn’t be entirely true, because I was perfectly satisfied eating my way through small plates and not tasting the pasta at all. But it would be a pity when it’s this good. The brown crab cacio e pepe takes London’s favorite pasta dish and remixes it. There’s an added touch of depth, an additional bit of saltiness, a more savory taste to the sauce that will have you grinding down to the last drop. The ragu duck was perfect; The sauce blends into the tiny crevices and folds of the silky fazzoletti, while the duck fat pangrattato provides a delicious crunch. God, even the salad was delicious; salty, lemon, a little olive oil. It seems almost rude to make a leaf taste lovely.

(Molly Codyre)

Carter’s Smokestak experience and Chris Leach’s time at Pitt Cue are best seen in the final dish selection – the finale, if you will. Had roast beef jerky, and minced pork with almost incinerated cabbage. We had to stop after pasta because we were so excited by the first two (and the aforementioned pescetarian as well), but that seems to be the beauty of dining here and that oxymoron menu – I could go back and eat a completely different meal, but a meal that will feel just as great, or just as in sync with what I ate this time. There was also a chocolate tart that I regretted not ordering since I visited.

What struck me about Manteca was the feeling of eating at a restaurant I didn’t even realize I missed. It seemed to have worked out almost as an accurate representation of all the little things that I found lacking elsewhere. I can find myself dropping in for weekend lunches with visiting friends, booking a larger table for special occasions, or simply popping in for a plate of that cacio e pepe when I happen to be in the area. And that, when you get there, is what makes this restaurant so good; I’m sure it’s going to be on the list of London classics. Manteca: Opening of London’s coolest new restaurant


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