Semplice: contender for the biggest letdown of the year
I’ll keep this review short ‘n simple, as despite it’s 1 Michelin star, I found very little to like about Semplice.
The one saving grace: The pastas. Top notch ingredients, simply but skillfully executed with well-balanced flavours, it’s perhaps the one and only Michelin-Star-worthy thing about the place. Home-made egg Sedanini was al dente yet light, accompanied by a venison ragout that melted away in the mouth like velvet and a deep-flavoured (albeit swampy-looking) Cavolo Nero sauce. The Ricotta and Radicchio stuffed Ravioli was equally as pleasing… a good balance of milky cheese and mild bitter notes from the filling… then came the natural sweetness from the juicy langoustines and light, broth-like sauce. Sadly though, the good news stops here.
The bad: The Main Courses. Heavy… Overly rich… Over-seasoned – it’s the antithesis of everything I love about traditional, fresh, rustic Italian cuisine. The artichoke sauce was a bit pasty and stodgy, overwhelming an otherwise plump and juicy rabbit. The Veal dish didn’t strike the right chords either. The dish felt incredibly soggy and wet… the spelt sponging up too much of the surrounding liquids. By the 3rd bite, the combination of rich porcini and the OTT demi-glaze sauce started to tickle the gag reflex.
The ugly: The lighting. Anybody else finding the sickly yellow tinge throughout the photos cringe-worthy? Add to that the sterile-cream colour scheme, overpolished mahogony and gaudy-swirl of the plaster walls and it makes for a rather nauseating ambience. What’s worst, with starters around £15 and mains touching the £30 mark, it’s a rather expensive way to make oneself barf. We didn’t bother to stick around for dessert and find out if we could keep our food down.
A sure contender for the biggest letdown of the year, especially given the high expectations I had going into the meal. I’d gladly stick to my rustic favourites of Zucca or Il Bordello anyday thankyouverymuch. However, if you still feel compelled to spend on more upmarket, fine Italian cuisine, I’d suggest you head over to Zafferanos instead where I think you’ll find far better food and an old-world Italian restaurant that actually deserves its Michelin star.
10 Blenheim Street, W1S 1LJ, Mayfair | www.ristorantesemplice.com | ingested Fri 7th Oct 2011