Couldn’t leave London without a full three-course treat. We headed to Pimlico for the first time and found this little gem of a restaurant on a street corner…
Most of my day in London with Dean Connor was spent reminiscing about our uni days. Those that took place coming up to five years ago. One thing that did not come up amid our nostalgia was the last time either of us had anything to do with the card game UNO. A weird and unexpected night in one of our favourite clubs in early 2013, which involved a large drunken group of us passing the cards around to each other, using only our teeth…
…I wish I was joking.
This only struck my mind in deciding how to begin this review, the relevance being that the place Dean and I eventually settled on in Pimlico was called UNo. By this time, we had already had lunch at The Coal Hole in Strand, and had a drink in a number of pubs along the way. Suffice it to say, we had built a staunch appetite. Enough to need the full three-course treatment.
UNo. is only a small venue, but when this is the case, I think the staff do take better care of you. They take your coats to a cloakroom to ensure your absolute comfort, for example. There was also not too long a wait to have drink orders seen to; the food orders did take a little longer for there was such a lot to choose from.
Dean had been let down at lunchtime for not being allowed a starter, so he received his wish for some soup this time; the soup of the day was Carrot & Courgette (see pictured above). Very winter-warmery: the sort of thing one wants to eat at this time of year. No bread came on the side, but there were a couple of croûtons dotted about in there.
My choice of starter was Fritura di Calamare e Zucchine (see pictured), which would be Calamari with deep-fried courgette chips. Also on the side were some aubergine slices, which looked more like little pancakes than anything else. I must confess, I wasn’t overly keen on them, and I didn’t really see how they added to the dish at all. The calamari slices were none of the shrunken deep-fried sort you get from the Prezzos of the world. These were huge rings of light-gold squid, really meaty and really flavourful, served in a brown paper cone, echoing an old-fashioned fish-and-chip supper wrapped in newspaper. To my amazement, the courgette chips were also very tasty, and quite moreish. Move over, sweet potato fries, and make way for the courgette!
With the exercise we had done to get there, we both felt we had earned the right to a carb-heavy main course. Dean went down the pizza route, with a Pizza Toscana (see pictured), which was the traditional mozzarella and tomatoes, with Tuscan Sausage and mushrooms.
Personally, we saw enough of the pizza from me last year, so I thought I would give a calzone a long-overdue appearance. It came in the form of the restaurant’s signature: Calzone UNo. (see pictured). Again, it contains the usual suspects, mozzarella and tomatoes, cast alongside spicy salami, capers and black olives. An optional drizzle of chilli oil finished it off for me. Now the olives are very abundant inside this folded pizza. If you’re not a huge fan, I’d recommend you have something else, as they dominate all the other flavours. With almost every bite, it’s the taste of olive, perhaps underlined with the heat of the salami. The capers were sadly redundant. But if black olives are what you’re into, then definitely go for it!
Time to peruse my favourite part — the sweet section, though it may shock you to hear this is the first dessert to make it onto Expensive Tastes this year! A simple baked cheescake, or Torta di Formaggio (see pictured) with a berry compote was enough to satisfy Dean. To be honest, as with so many other Italian restaurants, I was not really enchanted by anything there. It’s all very traditional, so I went for something I knew I hadn’t had before – Bavarese di Vaniglia (see pictured below).
Bavarian Cream, also known as a Bavarois, might strike one as very similar to a panna cotta. It is milk, thickened with gelatin and eggs, before having whipped cream folded into it. It makes for a very rich dessert, and only requires a little fruit, whether in the form of a coulis or with a garnish, like the redcurrants and physalis that topped mine. Spoiler alert — it won’t be the only one you see on this site any time soon! UNo. instantly loses points for its presentation, though. A Kilner jar is such an ugly thing to serve a dish in: starter, main or dessert!
Pimlico is not exactly deficient in places to eat, but UNo. is definitely up there as one of the classier-looking joints. Aubergine pancakes and Kilner jars aside, it makes a great value meal. One to take a date, I’d say.