After months of longing, The Dishwasher and I finally decided to check out Spuntino in Soho. We had been to the first trial night of Russell Norman’s most recent addition to his group of restaurants; Polpo in Smithfield and loved it, so we were eager to try an American take on his small plate phenomenon. We arrived extremely early at 6pm (how uncool) as you cannot book and I was overstimulated by the prospect. On arrival there was plenty of space, but by the time we left at 8pm the queue was out the door, so bear that in mind when visiting. We started the experience with a complementary mug of popcorn with chilli salt (a nice touch) and a Cynar Gin Fizz, which was the greatest cocktail that had ever slipped down my gullet; I would go back for this alone. The Dishwasher had his usual Old Fashioned, but a very good Old Fashioned it was (on closer inspection we realised it was the inclusion of sugar syrup that took it to another level, what a child).
Excuse the dim photos – there was low lighting and I was trying to be subtle with my food ogling.
The premises used to be a butcher and they have retained the white tilled walls, and the stripped back trade feel. There are no tables so you will either be seated at the large metal ‘U’ shape bar on stools, or at separate counters at the back. If you can, opt for the bar seating as you can watch the cocktail masters at play. Now….. my problem with small plate restaurants is that I tend to use the word ‘and’ too much AND by the time I’ve finished ordering the look of shock on the servers face shames me. Undeterred, I ordered an excessive amount because, really how else am I supposed to describe the food if I don’t try as much of it as I can?
So first up was the truffled egg toast…. Wow. A square of thick bloomer toast, its middle cut out and filled with molten egg yolk, then covered in cheese and truffle. You can’t go wrong with that and this was oh so right. Enough said.
The rest of the dishes came pretty much all at once; pulled pork and pickled apple slider, buttermilk fried chicken, mac and cheese, ham hock and shoestring fries. I wanted the slider to myself as I am obsessed with pulled pork and the pickled apple was an inspired English twist on the American classic. The ham hock was salty and juicy and pink and was devoured by The Dishwasher. The buttermilk chicken had a lingering spice which made it extremely moreish and the fries where nicely seasoned if a bit on the soggy side. The only dish that didn’t thrill me was the mac and cheese as I like my sauce thick and stringy with cheese and this was a little thin, although the truffle oil did help.
Our waitress seemed a little appalled surprised that we still wanted desert after all that, but we did, so ordered the Dutch baby and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The faultless Dutch baby (a thick, crispy edged pancake) was served in a hot pan with rhubarb compote and crème fraîche ice-cream, but the sandwich was the highlight. I ordered it knowing full well that the description was not going to be literal; it’s not that sort of place. And I was right. A lightly sweetened raspberry “jam” (compote) was sandwiched between two triangles of creamy smooth peanut butter ice cream “bread” and covered in a crunchy chopped peanut brittle/praline. This desert is ingenious and designs of how to shamelessly steal their idea instantly formed. I am hoping a copycat version will soon appear on this blog.
In conclusion I will be rushing back for some gin, toast and a peanut and jelly sandwich, again and again. Amen.