Best local Indian Restaurant in Essex 2014
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides
The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories
Tucked away in Blossom Street â presumably the place in the City specialising in bulb investment and Chrsyanth futures â is the aptly named 1 Blossom Street. The owner, Roberto Podda â a name I could happily recite for hours â seems to be on a mission to bring good Italian food to this corner of the Square Mile. On the evidence of our recent visit, itâs mission accomplished. And all without an over-reliance on pasta.
Itâs a smart room, and the atmosphere is relaxed. Iâm a huge â in all senses â fan of Italian cuisine. Thereâs something inherently sexy in the food, something engaging about the passion and flair itâs all done with, that transmits to me when I eat it. Itâs not often that someone of my, er, Tony Soprano-like girth feels sexy but Italian restaurants do it. Pretty much everytime. And, from walking through the door to the last drop of coffee, 1 Blossom Street pressed all of those buttons.
The menu is straightforward and unfussy, but brings an impressive twist to standard Italian ingredients: the usual flavours are all present and correct, but the assembly is slightly unexpected. For example, Poached Egg in a Parmesan basket with Crispy Bacon and Sauteed Potatoes (Â£7.60). The flavours â the cheese, the bacon, the expertly sauteed potatoes â scream Italy but the poached egg gives it that sense of novelty. Over-analysis aside, itâs just a great dish, that straddles the line between all-out comfort eating and sensible starter. My companion went slightly healthier with the Swordfish Carpaccio with Herbs, Ligurian Olives Tapenade, Tomato Concasseâ and Citronette (Â£8.90), a delightful combination of flavours.
Mains were similarly first rate. Indeed, even a vegetarian option, Frappe with Broccoli, Chilli and Pecorino Cheese, sounded tempting. However, carnivorous leanings always overtake me in such surroundings so Roasted Pork Chop with Rosemary Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach (Â£14.50) it had to be. Yes, it was more potatoes, but carbs are not evil, okay? Anyway, this was a good piece of meat treated with care and attention and immensely satisfying. The other halfâs Seabass and Cherry Tomato Risotto with Roquette (Â£13.50) was also terrific and what a combination.
Desserts were, of course, unnecessary by this stage but if you can turn down Tiramisu with fresh berries (Â£4.50) then youâre a better man than I am. And come on, it at least came with berries rather than potatoes so thatâs an improvement, surely? Whatever, this was a very good piece of Tiramisu and, as one who has eaten a fair few slices in his day, you can take my word on that. Again, I was put to shame by my companion who went the Fresh Fruit and Sorbet (Â£5) route, and clearly enjoyed it.
All in all, a highly enjoyable, professionally-run place thatâs big on taste and friendliness.
Address 1 Blossom Street
Tel: 0845 345 1727
Type of food: Italian
Average cost per head, including wine - Â£35
Value for money: 3/5