City Point, 1 Ropemaker Street, Moorgate, EC2Y 9AW
I love exploring the latest food and dining trends-I could be up for eating insect-based food in a blacked-out dining room…naked….but sometimes I crave a bit of old-school Italian charm, a dessert trolley and a menu that offers certainty and not too much innovation. So an invitation to review Gatti’s in the City Point development near Moorgate seemed like an excellent idea.There is a wine bar on the ground floor level but her ladyship and I descended down past the private dining room to a surprisingly large basement area. The plan was to try out the Classic and Contemporary menus which run for the whole summer, but there is also a substantial à la carte offer. Both the menus are £34.99 per person for three courses and include a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rich with crudités which took me by surprise because the raw fruit and veg (red peppers, cucumber, celery or pineapple) are for putting in the fizz. The champagne has a sugar content of 22% which is quite high so I chose cucumber with its cool vegetal tones which turned the drink into a delicious summer’s cocktail. Her ladyship went for the red pepper which with a dish of tapenade or bowl of olives could be just the thing.Perfectly grilled scallops came with crunchy asparagus, ginger, garlic, and fresh chilli dressing with a crispy shard of Parma ham sitting on top. This is the food I want to eat in the summer-light but with great flavours. I would have preferred the Tempura di Mare of deep fried prawns, scampi, and calamari with tartar to have a lighter batter as the seafood felt slightly overwhelmed. By now we were drinking a wonderful Chardonnay Bramito del Cervo from Umbria made by the great Italian wine house, Antinori (£38.90). It had great structure and toasty notes of apples and citrus.A tender and full-flavoured rack of lamb came coated in grissini crumbs with nutty, caramelised grilled artichokes, tomatoes and a vegetal fresh basil pesto. This rich dish had a terrific balance of textures and flavours .Tagliolini di pasta fresca had a rough-hewn quality with home-made pasta tossed with red mullet, chilli, garlic and thinly sliced vegetables. I’m a big fan of red mullet and loved this dish with the bitterness of the radicchio leaves giving each mouthful an unexpected kick.Our trio of desserts-strawberry tiramisu, chocolate mousse and passionfruit pannacotta- were a delicious contrast of sweet flavours and we washed them down with a great Muscat-Passito di Noto from near Syracusa in Sicily-which coated the tongue with tropical fruit and spice flavours.
Classic Italian dining seems to be making something of a comeback and Gatti’s should be on your list if that’s your kind of thing. Service was charming and informed and the food should be shared with more than just the City crowd.