I was very happy to be able to pay a visit to the Kensington branch of Spaghetti House last week to sample some of their delicious dishes. Although this was my first visit to Spaghetti House Kensington, I had been a visitor to some of their other venues in London over the years although – clearly erroneously, given my enjoyment of my evening in the Kensington branch – have not dined with them for a number of few years.
Entering the restaurant at just after 7pm on a Wednesday, I was happy to see that the venue was almost entirely full, with a real mix of dinner guests – from several large tables of families (young kids and adults), young couples and older groups of friends. In many ways, it was pleasantly surprising to see a restaurant already so full early on in the evening, but no doubt the hearty food at this excellent central Kensington location (opposite Kensington Gardens) had enticed many a diner.
Now, it wouldn’t be too overboard to say that I absolutely adore Italian food. Not just pasta, as delightful as that is, but almost anything that an Italian restaurant can produce. I’ve yet to discover an Italian dish that I didn’t enjoy and as wonderful as the country is, I unfortunately can’t visit that often for fear of coming back about two stone heavier. (I exaggerate a little bit there, of course. But only a little bit.)
Settling in to our cosy table towards the back of the restaurant, we started with a refreshing glass of prosecco and a a couple of assagini (little appetiser plates) to start – the nocellara del belice olives (the large, bright green, meaty olives – I’m not an olive connoisseur, but I am always delighted to be offered these) and the pane rustico, a selection of bread choices including crisp Sardinian music bread, which has to be one of the most more-ish bread options ever created.
Perusing the menu for the main part of our meal was a difficult task, insofar as deciding what to pick! Spaghetti House’s menu offers a very vast selection of items to choose from under starters, pastas, mains and sides, and although saying “there’s something for everyone” might sound a bit naff, it is true in this case – picky eaters to light nibblers to those who want a full Italian feast will all find something (actually, much more than just one thing) that will delight them.
I settled on the zucchini fritters – crispy-fried courgette batons – to start, whilst my companion had the traditional prosciutto e melone, parma ham and melon salad. My starter came wrapped in paper and set in a little metal container – very nicely presented, and which also worked well to contain the tender courgette pieces which fell apart easily as I attacked them with my fork. The batons had a very light batter coating which proved enough for a starter dish – anything more would have seen it be too heavy for a first course. The classic parma ham and melon combo didn’t disappoint, and the light dressing was a suitable addition to the ham and the fruit.
For mains, my companion and I both settled on somewhat similar dishes; with neither one of us willing to budge to something a little different from the other, we went ahead and ordered the Linguini gamberoni (king prawns, white wine, garlic, chilli & wild rocket) and the Linguini vongole in bianco (fresh clams, white wine, chilli & garlic). Unsurprisingly, given their similarity, both of these were presented in steal pans set on a small wooden triangle which certainly gave our dishes a more authentic feel. Although both dishes come with what is essentially a very light sauce, the portions of both pasta and seafood were very generous with both of us – and there’s no denying that we have rather healthy appetites – proclaiming to be rather full whilst taking our final few mouthfuls. My dish’s delicate little clams provided just the right amount of meaty (or fishy, I suppose) texture to complement the pasta and there definitely wasn’t any skimping on the chilli and garlic side of things – which was lucky for me, as I adore both. (So, not that suitable for someone who prefers things a little more on the bland side – but who does?)
Despite our proclamations mentioned above, it’s hard to turn down an Italian dessert…isn’t it? I certainly couldn’t, but decided to turn my eyes away from my “usuals” – the tiramisus, the creme caramels – to try something different. The torta di ricotta e pera (roast pear, almond & ricotta cake with honeycomb ice cream) was it, and the only reason a slightly dismayed look came over my face as the waiter brought it over was because of the large portion! The cake itself was a delicious, springy sponge cake with slices of pear and a smooth ricotta-based filling, the light taste of which worked well with the sweet honeycomb ice cream.
My dining partner did actually turn down dessert (“too stuffed” was the official reason), but it seems that Spaghetti House have just the thing for people like that. Not keen on another course, my companion did perk up at the idea of coffee – at which point he was introduced to the idea of the Caffé goloso. This superb idea is the diner’s choice of coffee, plus a small portion of tiramisu or a profiterole and chocolate sauce – almost ideal for those that say they don’t want dessert, but do end up wanting a sweet spoonful or two!
All in all, my dining companion and I had a wonderful evening at Spaghetti House and greatly enjoyed all of our dishes. A special mention does have to go to the very friendly trio of Alexandra, Raffaele and Fabrizio who were the staff there that evening, and who all served us with big smiles throughout our meal.
If this has perked your interest, then I would highly recommend visiting Spaghetti House Kensington to enjoy their wonderfully vast Italian menu in a very cosy setting. You can find more about their dishes and the company itself on the website www.spaghettihouse.co.uk.
Don’t forget that we’re currently running a competition which will see one lucky winner enjoy a free three course meal for two at Spaghetti House Kensington! In honour of their first anniversary this month and their Celebration Menu, Spaghetti House have kindly donated this excellent prize – see WIN a three-course meal for two at Spaghetti House Kensington – and celebrate their first anniversary! for more details and how to enter.
Disclaimer: I was invited to review Spaghetti House and did not pay for this meal.