39 Chepstow Place
London W2 4TS
020 7792 5501
Monday to Friday 12.30-2.30pm
Monday to Saturday 7.30-11pm
We had dinner with QJ, hosted by 2 of her father’s good friend. This restaurant was recommended by them. Assaggi is definitely not the easiest place to find, since it’s in a quiet corner not too near to Bayswater Tube Station, on top of a pub. We made sure that we were not too shabbily dressed, but judging from the service we received, I think they would have made us feel welcome even if we turned up in slippers and shorts.
This is Italian front of house at its best – loud, passionate, and very, very charming. Our menu was presented with a flourish, but alas, it was all in Italian! So our hosts asked for the recommendations of the day, and our server (who was probably the owner himself) did such a good job of selling every single dish that we would have ordered every last thing they served, had he not shouted “enough, enough, this is enough food” and whisked the menus from right under our noses – very slick and very, Italia.
We didn’t take any photos of the food, since our hosts were 2 very distinguished members of society, and didn’t want to embarrass them, or ourselves.
The essence of Assaggi is very simple, homely food. There’s very little fuss over the presentation, with little or none of those pretentious ingredients like truffle or foie gras. We had a starter of fried cheese with salad to share, which was very simple, but very very good. It came with a wrap that you’re supposed to wrap the cheese in with, and even Amanda, who usually dislikes cheese with a passion, found it very good. We also had individual starters. The fresh mozzarella cheese salad was the highlight of the meal. There was nothing complicated about that dish – it was just a celebration of the freshest ingredients and it tasted very clean and crisp.
We were more divided about the mains. The Fritto Misto (mixed fried seafood) came highly recommended, but was rather hit-and-miss. Parts of the dish like the prawn and the crispy fries were heavenly, but the others were less stellar. The pasta with fresh herb was very delicious at first bite, but the herb got rather overpowering about midway through the dish. The turbot dish though, was apparently very good, despite it being a hard fish to cook.
Desserts were a source of much debate. Our male host decided he would take it upon himself to make the decision for the group and order 5 of the same dessert, the name I can’t recall, but it was something he really liked. When the desserts arrived, loud protests came from 2 diners at the table. They absolutely hated it, and were most offended by the coffee that was generously poured all over the bowl. They decided to go ahead with their instincts and order tiramisu and a flourless chocolate cake instead, which went down much more agreeably. The other 3 diners appreciated the initial choice of desserts, and were rather amused by the way it was insulted by being called a “tiramisu gone wrong”.
Overall it was an enjoyable meal, and we felt honored to be able to be in the presence of 2 very smart and very well-connected people. (And a bimbo…that’s you, QJ). On a final note, subtle things make a huge difference: A was very impressed that her coat was returned to her heated, which points to the level of attention this restaurant gives to their guests.
Additional note: This restaurant has a Michelin star, and it is apparently very hard to get a table.
Food: 8 /10