Saturday, July 10, 2010


How great is it when you can actually say London is too hot? Friday night with the girls, cocktails in a pretty place was right up my alley at the end of this week. As I was walking through the lush Green Park where there were striped deck chairs aplenty with sun-worshippers, a cold glass of Prosecco was calling my name. I'm all over it!

Tempo is a newly opened contemporary Italian restaurant in the heart of Hedge Fund Alley aka chichi Mayfair to the rest of us. Despite the menu being very Italian, Japanese chef Yoshi Yamada is behind the articulate and original take on Italian cooking which is just right for this Mediterranean heatwave. Here were the highlights:

Seared Octopus and Pomegranate: One of the great inventions of Italian eating culture is how they have starters before starters. A cicchetti is too large to be an amuse bouche but too small to be an actual appetiser. The octopus was beautifully seasoned and seared just right, and I loved it against the vibrant parsley, green apple and pomegranate, though two slim strips of octopus looks a little mean, no? Cicchetti or not, Italian cooking has to feel like it's inviting and hearty.


Taglioni of Fresh Cornish Crab, dill and Lime: Now this is more like it. Taglioni has a wonderful ability to let any ingredient that comes into contact with it cling on for dear life and be a carrier of flavours. This dish showed a new take on typical seafood pasta, the zing from the lime and herby peaks from the dill really brought the crab into zesty new life. 

Venison Carpaccio, pickled beetroot and summer vegetables. A rather interesting style of carpaccio, usually the meat is very rare, paper thin and quite animally in taste. The venison was seared and then sliced thinly, which made it more steaky, but I really enjoyed the contrast of that with the sour beetroot. 

Tuna Loin, Roasted Peppers: I was quite middle of the road with this dish. It ticked all the boxes in a technically cooked tuna with roasted vegetables, i.e. pink in the middle, soft and sour from the peppers but didn't have the x-factor.

Halibut, clams and zucchini: And back on track with this fish - halibut was cooked well, lots of juicy tomato goodness which you could dip bread in, and the clams topped off the seafood savouryness of it all. A large portion to share for two, we appreciated the providence of this course.

I did warn you we were on a girly Friday. Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Ice Cream. May I be so bold to say the Hungry Female does a chocolate fondant, and I would wouldn't feel intimidated by rivalling this one! There was a good hit of dark chocolate, but more cooked than oozy and just quite boring actually.

Lemon Tart: Awesome. So lemony, we were regaling stories of lemons and limoncello from the Amalfi coast. The top was burnt to give a creme brulee effect - genius! One of the best lemon tarts I've had in a while. 

Summer Berry Tart with Raspberry Sorbet: Light, fruity and an all-round crowd pleaser. I would have preferred a sharper tasting sorbet but that is personal preference.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience, however there were some dishes that completely outclassed others. It's not the standard approach to Italian food, so whilst I'm sceptical, I could be persuaded into a second visit. We scored on an opening week deal, shaving 50% off the total bill, so it will be interesting to see if standards change after the deal ends. With our deal it was £35 a head, including 2 bottles of wine and 10 dishes.

(Thank you to foodie friend J for letting me pinch those pictures!)

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