Hungry Like the Wolf @ London’s Bocca di Lupo

Slowly but surely, after numerous trips to London, I am building up my “Must-Eat” list of places to dine when I am in this wonderful city. A melting pot of different cuisines, with a plethora of choice from cheap and cheerful to luxurious and extravagant, London’s food scene is tongue-titillatingly exciting! What I find lacking in Hong Kong are the mid-range priced restaurants that serve GOOD food, unlike so many establishments where a HK$400 spend will get you:

a) a glass of wine and a portion of two wonderfully delicious yet overly priced foie gras mini-burgers

or

b) a glass of wine, a plate of nachos and a superbly mediocre burger.

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate a little bit, and I don’t mean to knock my own city. You all know that I eat out a lot in Hong Kong, and that I enjoy a lot of what I eat. In fact, if you care to participate in this debate, I challenge and invite you to comment on this post!  Let me know your favorite meals in Hong Kong in the $400 per person range (and that’s including a glass of tipple), restaurants that surprised you the first time you went, and that consistently serve fresh, tasty and (most importantly) thoughtful food. I will one day write a post about this topic, but for now will keep my list to myself.

As always, I digress.

A warm and welcoming, and unassuming restaurant, located on a quiet street off the bustling Shaftsbury Avenue

A warm, welcoming, and unassuming restaurant, located on a quiet street off the bustling Shaftsbury Avenue

One of my new London favorites is now Bocca di Lupo (i.e. the mouth of the wolf), just a hop, skip and a jump away from Picadilly Station and Leicester Square Station. No need for Scottie to beam you up to Italy, you can just take the London Underground!

BDL was opened in 2008 by Jacob Kenedy, an academic turned chef who approaches his food in an informed way. The dishes can be sampled in small and large plates, allowing diners to design their dinner experience.  Each item on the menu is classified by the region in Italy that it originates from, and other dishes are creations of the chef.

At the time of my visit, their menu featured a B.Y.O TRUFFLES OPTION! Forget “V” for vegetarian, dishes marked with a “T” are recommended as ideal to have with truffles, which you can buy at Gelapo across the street.  Genius.

All of this technical stuff aside, the food is simple, honest, fresh and so gosh-darn tasty – your appetite becomes like that of the wolf. You want to devour everything. I went to BDL twice during my 2 weeks trip to London, and I am nowhere near satiated.

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Watching the chef’s at work in their small open kitchen, from our chef’s counter bar seats

From the Crudi e Salumi section, we ordered a selection of seafood carpaccio. I am a big fan of sashimi sweet prawns, and those Mediterranean red prawns are as sweet as you can find them. The burrata came next, a creamy ball of goodness, smothered in olive oil and bursting over a bed of grilled vegetables – adding fresh mint instead of basil was an interesting touch. After this came the rose veal tartare, a delicate and flavorful meat that wasn’t seasoned like a  normal tartare, and didn’t really need to be.

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Crudità di mare – raw red prawns, sea bream & scallop carpaccio. GBP 14

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Burrata with marinated grilled aubergines, tomato, chilli & mint. GBP 9.50

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Battuto – rose veal tartare with a little oil & little else. GBP 9

We skipped the Fritti section and went straight onto Paste & Risotti. The venison and the wild boar ragús were rich and filling, with clean and crips flavours. By this point in the meal, we were getting pretty stuffed. It was the first time I had tried gnudi – (pronounced “nu-dee”), a type of gnocci made with ricotta and flour which that hails from Tuscany. They were light and fluffy, and a great match with the ragú.

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(Uncertain) Chifferi with venison ragú GBP 8 – although the pasta isn’t ‘olive leaf shaped’

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Sheeps Ricotta Gnudi with Lamb Ragu GBP 10

The star of the show for me, the dish that really blew my mind, was the Lobster Spaghettini! This is the stuff of pasta wet dreams – a succulent Scottish lobster, teeming with roe and cholesterol-y goodness, with a punch of chili, a scent of ginger, and topped with fat mussels. The ginger was really the most interesting addition to this dish – it perfumed the pasta and gave a hint of ginger flavour that was just right.

Spaghettini with 1/2 lobster, mussels & ginger (Large) GBP 25

Spaghettini with 1/2 lobster, mussels & ginger (Large) GBP 25

Check out that roe!

Check out that roe!

Onto the Homemade Sausages, the spicy sausage came on a bed of light tomato sauce and served with polenta, which I am not usually a fan of, but was quite appealing mixed with that sauce! The foie gras sausage was packed with flavour, but oh so heavy and possibly my least favorite dish of the evening.

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Spicy sausage braised with tomato & rosemary, polenta GBP 6

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Foie gras luganega, farro & porcini GBP 10

And finally to the contorni, you can never go wrong with roast pumpkin! However, either the parmesan was very aged, or there was another ingredient that wasn’t mentioned on the menu, but there was a pungent after taste that I didn’t find too appealing.

Roast pumpkin with sage, Parmesan & balsamic GBP 8

Roast pumpkin with sage, Parmesan & balsamic GBP 8

Do these pictures leave you wanting to try it all yourself but don’t have a Tube station in your area? Well, fear not my fellow foodies, Bocca has a cookbook! I’ve already ordered mine off Amazon, and I am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival! Whilst taking a sneak peak inside the book, lo and behold there was the recipe for the Lobster Spaghettini! LoveBites is a very happy girl 🙂 The idea of freezing a live lobster and then hacking it to pieces has never been my idea of fun, but I will do it for this recipe!

Spaghettini with lobster, mussels ginger

Recipe for Spaghettini with lobster, mussels & ginger from Boca Cookbook

After dinner, we sauntered across the street to Gelupo, BDL’s sister establishment, for a scoop of gelato. I was very pleased to also find some top quality Italian groceries, and picked up my favorite Incanto Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (also available at Borough Market from the Olive Oil Company) and some truffle salt.

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Walk across the street for dessert at Gelupo

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Blood orange sorbet

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Coffee and ice cream

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Takeaway truffle menu!

Bocca Di Lupo gets two thumbs up from me, one for it’s fabulous food, and the other for it’s price point. This, together with the fact it won the Best Wine List award 2013 from London Tatler, makes it a complete no brainer – book your bar seats at the chef’s counter now, and take your truffles with you! That is, if you live in London. If you don’t (like me), well that’s just our tough luck.

Bocca Di Lupo

Add: 12 Archer Street, London, W1D 7BB
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7734 2223

Food and wine menus: http://boccadilupo.com/food-and-wine.php
Make a reservation online: http://www.toptable.co.uk/bocca-di-lupo-reservations-london?rid=71677&restref=71677

A sneak peak at the menu, at the time of our visit (14th November 2013) – they change the menu weekly, keeping the staple favorites whilst adding weekly special dishes

Bocca menu

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