Dining Out: Pellicanino

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Feeling a bit mondayish and a bit chilly, two friends and I headed towards Pellicanino on the recommendation of one of them, who was an habitué. On arrival we started to cheer up when we saw the bright new décor (designed to attract a younger audience than the parent Pelicano with traditional Italian food in My Hotel, at the end of the road). Smiles broadened as we scanned the menu, ably instructed by Marcello, our Maitre D., a proud Sardinian. We attacked the addictive herb dusted wafer thin flat crisp bread with chilli olive oil. (we did the ‘drizzling’).

The menu offered a tricky choice of clearly interesting combinations with a Sardinian slant. Until now I hadn’t realized that while related to Italian, the cooking and flavours are subtly different. (Nor did I know that Sardinian was a language in its own right, as different from Italian as English is from Welsh).

At last we made decisions. Miss H was attracted by an endive salad with smoked ricotta cheese and topped with pine nuts and pomegranate. Miss D plumped for the baby octopus slow cooked with tomato and garlic. The author went for a mussel and vongole with tomato, garlic and chilli. The smoked ricotta salad was a delightfully different touch. The clam and mussel zupetta was rich and utterly delicious; the sort of dish a Sardinian fisherman could restore himself with after a stormy passage. The octopus had a powerful flavour with a hint of anchovy softened by its bed of polenta. As a taster, we were given a tempura of artichoke. New to me. Light and fresh and very different from similarly battered zucchini.

Miss D accompanied her polipetti with a honeyed, scented glass of white Cannonau Tamara Monti Sardegna. the fragrance of which was absolutely beguiling. As the main courses were brought with a flourish by our charming Sardinian waitress I had quite forgotten about a stressful day or indeed which country I was in. Looking for a typically Sardinian dish I went for a Tagliatelle with Sardinian sausage and broad beans and the subtle clean under taste of the olive oil (I think the sausage is a good test of honest cooking). Miss H reprised the octopus, but found it too powerful for her palate. Miss D took the Taglioni with rocket pesto, prawns and garlic (she chose the gluten free pasta; something available for pasta and pizzas as an option, even desserts.); declared it light and tasty, accompanied with a robust, full, smoky red Seleme Monte Vermentino di Gallura 2013, a wine from the same region as the white.

Dessert was Coffee pannacotta, homemade ice cream and the star! a Carpaccio of paper thin pineapple with a ginger and chilli syrup (that chilli again) and a fragrant and not too sweet Muscadeddu Dettori Romangia dessert wine (we all tasted the Carpaccio and voted it the best). A tremendous Monday meal with great integrity. Useful to discover that you could turn up and take a quick starter and glass to fortify. Even a Sardinian pizza (which we tasted with a marvellously creamy mozzarella quite unlike your ‘regular’ pizza.)

For those even more mondayish than us, virtually the whole menu is available to be delivered to your door by Deliveroo or Room Service, but you would miss the atmosphere and friendly knowledgeable service. Almost tuesdayish, we wended our well-warmed and well-fed way. Sardinia obviously has many words for wine, culinary enthusiasm and hospitality. Pellicanino: (parking in the surrounding streets if you don’t select the delivery option).

19-21 Elystan Street, London, SW3 3NT

T: 020 7584 1789

www.pellicanino.co.uk

Review generously provided by Tim Epps 

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