L’Anima

I like restaurants that have meaningful names. By that I generally refer to restaurants with names from other languages. Then again it can be a double edged sword – if the food doesn’t quite match the name, the restaurant’s in for a beating. A couple of years ago I was watching a fascinating documentary on the world of Michelin and it’s food persona. Michelin inspectors and the director were interviewed, along with some outstanding chefs, hopeful chefs and infamous restaurants such as Bernard Loiseau who shot himself a few years ago after losing a rating on the Gualt Millau guide. Amongst these chefs interviewed was a rising star by the name of Francessco Mazzei of L’Anima, an Italian restaurant in London. As it turned out, he didn’t get his star that year, but has received quite a few awards and was also at this years Taste of London in Regents Park. 

The restaurant is quite an eye-opener upon approach. Located on a quiet street close to Moorgate, the frontage is all glass – almost makes everyone inside look like they’re in a fish bowl. It actually looks more like an art gallery space than a restaurant space – insanely spacious, high ceilings, white walls – very clean, tidy and uncluttered. And with great bar stools to have fun on (they’re the bouncy ones with levers to lower and raise yourself!) Whilst having our cocktails they brought out a plate of bruschetta bites that were rather nice, considering the rather insipid tomatoes we have to put up with in the UK.

A quick glance through the wine menu and we decided on a Montepulciano Abruzzo which turned out to be quite acidic initially, but settled after a bit of air and was even better with the food. The menu was quite self explanatory with a little column in the side explaining all the lovely Italian words and terms none of us are familiar with

 Carpaccio of beef, pickled vegetables, rocket, parmesan
 A carpaccio’s a carpaccio is a carpaccio right? This was no different. Looked the height of summer and tasted fairly okay – beef not overly exciting in terms of flavour.
.M’s homemade spaghetti with summer truffle was the success of a simple dish we’d hoped for. A good helping of grated summer truffle (and decent truffle too – earthy flavour and woody aroma)
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 Roast turbot, artichokes, calabrian sausage
This turned out to be one of my favourite fish dishes this summer. The calabrian sausage was reminiscent of a really good cured chorizo and along with the meatballs, helped the turbot to sing like Florence Nightingale. No, seriously. This was a lovely dish. And I love artichokes – especially in a barigoule style, with white wine and tomatoes.
M’s cod with mussels and clams went down well with her, but was a tad bit fishy for my liking.
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 Hazelnut bomb
Here’s  things slightly flopped. Neither of our desserts were that impressive. The hazelnut bomb was nice for the first few bites, but then got increasingly boring as there was nothing else to complement the hazelnut parfait other than a bit of chocolate.  I guess a stronger hazelnut flavour would have helped carry it off a bit better.
M’s Wild strawberry souffle, mint ice cream was a rising success, but a tasting flop. Predominantly tasting eggy, there was very little strawberry flavour by a long shot.
The restaurant seemed to be full throughout the evening and the food does hold it’s own and do the place justice. There were quite a few things on the menu that we’d have loved to try, and am sure will return to have. L’anima, incidentally, means ‘soul’ and whilst there may not be much in terms of the ambience, one does leave feeling they’ve had a good meal with good service, even if it meant having to listen to city business and legal talk from neighbouring tables all evening.
Overall Experience: 7
Recommend you to go? 8
Food: 7
Wine: 7
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