Sunday, December 07, 2014

Babbo - Fine Fare in Mayfair

Oh how I love mooching around the streets of Mayfair.  There’s always a street spot 
celebrity to tweet about and I always find myself spending way too much time (and money)  In Christian Louboutin.

Well, now I have another reason to hang out on Albemarle Street, because Babbo is one of the most charming, hidden Italian restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit.

My flatmate Leonie was my ‘date’ for the night.  And what a great date place it is too!  Beautifully lit, with romantic tables spaciously placed under stunning sparkly chandeliers, Babbo is a hidden treasure in the Mayfair maze.

Black and white family photos line the back wall – mostly photos of the owner with his children, hence the name ‘Babbo’ which means ‘daddy’ in Italian.  It adds a homely, cosy feel to the restaurant which almost makes you think you could be sat in the dining room of a grand Italian mansion somewhere in Tuscany.  Huge vases filled with fresh flowers add welcome bursts of colour to the pale hues of beige on the walls and the understated and traditional, yet contemporary furnishings.  There’s also a staircase lined with bottle upon bottle of fine wines which leads up to a private dining area with a huge plasma screen.  What better place to watch that all important football game, or have a long overdue and intimate catch up with family and friends?

Presentation was faultless, the staff tended to our every need without it feeling obtrusive.  A bottle of Gavi was the perfect accompaniment to our rich assortment of breads, crisp breads and bread sticks  , dipped in thick treacle like balsamic, while we perused the antipasti menu and made our selections.

I’d heard that Babbo’s head chef Carlo Scotto is something of a rising star in the culinary world.  I’d also heard that the ingredients he uses are hand-picked and flown in fresh from Italy.  The burrata was said to be one of those specialities, so as a big burrata fan, that was the easy choice.  Balanced on top of a fresh slice of juicy tomato, the burrata came drizzled with basil pesto - creamy and buttery to the taste with its slightly slippery shiny texture and that unmistakeable subtle yet full flavour, it most certainly didn’t disappoint.  The calamari was a close second.  Topped with fried swede (sounds bizarre, but totally worked,) it came with a basil and milk mayonnaise.

The Lasagne al ragout di chianina at Babbo is legendary and the recipe has been passed down through the generations for over 100 years.  At £20, it’s a little more than I’d normally pay for a lasagne, but every mouthful was worth it!  Leo went for the rack of lamb coated in herb crust and served with lentil, chestnut and aubergine puree.  The lamb was tender and succulent resting neatly on perfectly cooked potatoes.  A delicate yet decadent flavour.

I almost resisted the temptation to order dessert, but the dolci list looked too good to pass up!  The Torta dip era con gelato alla canella comes with my highest recommendations.  It’s a pear tart served with a dollop of cinnamon ice cream – freshly baked and bursting with fresh fruit flavours, absolutely divine.

With the nights drawing in, Babbo is the perfect place to dine in elegant surroundings with first class service.  And if you can manage to get the ingredients for that speciality lasagne, then be sure to pass them on!

39-40 Albemarle Street


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