Published on April 21st, 2016 | by Ben Southwood0
Casa di Stefano, Mayfair
Summary: If you want comfortingly familiar Italian dishes done to a high standard, then you could do a lot worse
Mayfair restaurants are very expensive. It goes with the territory: Mayfair everything is very expensive. Mayfair salaries are very expensive so people who work in Mayfair can actually afford Mayfair everything. I can’t, so it was just as well I was invited to Casa di Stefano, which is a very nice restaurant marred only by being a bit too expensive for me, but probably not for actual denizens of Mayfair.
The room is done up very pleasantly, like a plush, soft Mediterranean yacht. We were privileged enough to sit at what must surely have been the best table: a semi-circular booth with lots of incredibly comfortable pillows propping our backs up. We were also privileged by the service, which doesn’t quite reach the perfection of somewhere like Piquet or Helene Darroze at the Connaught, but is very good regardless. Waiters are always there when you need them and absent when you don’t want them.
I think that the service and venue are probably the ‘easiest’ things to simply buy with money, but that’s not to diminish the achievement, since nearly all new restaurants in London today are backed by a large pile of cash, but most still design only decent rooms and provide only decent service. Casa di Stefano does a bit better on those.
The food is harder to perfect, and they do less well, although still rather well. Mayfair prices buys you generous slices of truffle on your beef carpaccio, with the usual effect: powerful complex flavours to complement the tender thinly-sliced raw meat. The Melanzane alla Parmigiana is surely the best I’ve tried: comforting like a warm hug; fancy homely food.
The scallops were decent if unexceptional, with yellow and orange pepper sauces that tasted exactly like the original item. The fish and veal mains were also good but without finesse: I suspect they are quality bits of meat, and they were cooked well, but with little flair. My companion’s favourite dish, and my least favourite (though I still liked it), was the incredibly creamy truffle-topped ravioli. Little floppy parcels of fancy gloop.
For dessert they served us pannacotta and tiramisu—classics, but done in their own style. The pannacotta was a satisfyingly wobbly jelly ringed with fruit and something like a sweet fruit coulis. A very light and delicate end to the meal. The tiramisu was a sundae glass mainly filled with cream, with dotted bits of broken up coffee-flavoured cake. My companion wasn’t the biggest fan but I found it nice, although I didn’t want more than a few spoons.
Casa di Stefano is expensive—the mains reach into the 30s—but so is everything around here. If you have some money and you want comfortingly familiar Italian dishes done to a high standard, then you could do a lot worse.
Casa di Stefano, 19-20 Dover St, W1S 4LUShare This Post