Restaurant review: Il Calico, Old Brompton Road, London
On Saturday we visited Brompton Cemetery to visit a London landmark we hadn’t been to before and enjoy the sun. Just around the corner from this on Old Brompton road we stopped off for lunch on our way from Earls Court tube to the Cemetery on the Fulham Road. I haven’t spent much time exploring the restaurants of this bit of West London, often we take the tube into central London bypassing this wonderful area. When I have walked Earls Court and Gloucester Road has always been a pleasant experience. I know that the Old Brompton Road and the surrounding areas have some great hidden gem restaurants and cafe’s, I have seen some great reviews of outdoor places to eat here and intend to visit one or two this summer.
We were looking for somewhere for lunch and were immediately tempted by Il Calico’s three course lunch-time set menu for £11.95! I don’t know how they make any profit on this when looking at the portion sizes and quality of ingredients. A little history about the restaurant. It started as a single restaurant in Bucharest, opened by Valentino Salagean as the chef and owner. Over time it grew to a chain of 10 across the city and became popular with celebrities like Mikey Rourke and Andy Garcia. The Brompton branch is the second in the UK following the first in Mayfair.
We ordered from the set menu as it had some lovely choices though the A La Carte Menu looked fantastic too.
We each ordered a glass of the house white wine to go with our lunch, a great addition at just £3.50 each for a generous glug of Pinot Grigio. I know I should have ordered red with red meat but it was a very warm day and I always feel its better suited to warm weather.
I stated with Tartare di salmone, chopped, minced fresh raw Salmon, avocado, chives served with toasted bread. Though the portion might look small in the picture it’s quite richly flavoured and you get just the right amount. I thought the presentation on this dish was some of the best I have seen this year, including our trips to Kettners. The little orange baubles are Salmon eggs. They look lovely as part of the plate but just too salty for me.
Hana opted for the Insalata di Tonno, Tuna salad. I didn’t try this myself but it looked lovely and Hana liked it.
Being a big carnivore I opted for the strips of Beef fillet with rocket, baby tomatoes roast potatoes and shavings of Parmesan. Again this was a beautifully presented dish. The portion might look a little small form the picture but there is a mountain of perfectly beef under the rocket. I have never thought of paring parmesan with steak but it worked surprisingly well. It provides a fantastic saltyness which compliments the robust flavour of the beef.
Hana ordered a pretty big Siciliane pasta bake. It looked lovely but I don’t think the dish had been properly labeled on the menu as she wasn’t expecting something quite so big and heavy on a warm summers day. That said when she couldn’t manage any more I filled in for her. It was quite nice, a good tomato sauce and cheese on it. The bacon was a little chewy for me but that said I would be happy to go back there and order this dish.
After a richly flavoured starter and main course, plus that bit of Hana’s I helped her with I didn’t have too much room for dessert, which was included in the 3 courses for £11.95. We were both also thinking about ice cream in the park later. In the end we both opted for a simple coffee, the alternative on the menu to a proper dessert.
So what did I think? Over all I liked the restaurant and the food. I found the staff to be attentive yet not overbearing or in your face. I’d go back there and eat again. so that’s probably the best recommendation I can say.
(n.b Il Calico is not aware of my review prior to publication and I have done this review off my own back, i.e. not for money/ compensation)