Published on September 1st, 2015 | by Clarissa Waldron0
Iddu, South Kensington
Summary: Iddu has plenty of home-grown potential, but is flummoxed in when it comes to the interests of the customer
I first heard of Iddu earlier this summer after a disastrous review featured in the Guardian. At the time I amusingly chalked it down to ‘a bad day at the office’ – on both sides. When I’m A Londoner was invited in for an Iddu experience to coincide with the launch of its granita menu, I was intrigued. How would the restaurant fare following such dismissal in the eyes of one of the world’s biggest publications? Not very well truth be told.
On the face of it, Iddu seems a neat, chic and slightly pretentious Sicilian eatery, trying to fit in amongst the other boutique independent facades that South Kensington offers, with its all black exterior, lower case font and outdoor seating area.
Inside things start to wane. The menu is surprisingly limited and somewhat confusing, with no introduction from our unenthusiastic waiter. Some questions that are later asked are not understood… or not deemed important enough to warrant an answer perhaps.
The tables are small and close together – whippet space between seating is not ideal for a dinner environment. Throughout the evening I felt our conversation could be overheard by those next to us – directly next to us, despite their being ample available tables further away.
And so the food. Nouvelle cuisine has certainly reached London via Sicily, although presentation loses marks. There were highs, however fleeting, in the form of the tuna tartare, trapanese pesto. For a starter it set the bar high and was more ample in size than its successor. My guests’ sea bass carpaccio, peaches, ginger & fennel was a great display of thinly sliced, raw fish with fruity sweetness from the peach, which was a lovely addition to the tartness of the dish.
Despite the atmosphere and ambience, all seemed to be well.
But there were lows, and when they came (eventually) they fell with an echoing thud. Yes our meals took quite some time to arrive, despite the few ingredients that made up each dish and the restaurant being none too busy at 7pm on a Saturday evening. The pace of life must be slower in Sicily than in London, although I suppose that wouldn’t be too difficult.
I questioned the waiter about what came with the Taglioni. Pesto, came the reply. Just pesto? A nod.
Having lived off pasta and pesto while at uni, for mains I chose the Swordfish involtino with salmoriglio sauce hoping for something with more sustenance. It arrived as three strips of fish rolled into a tube, with a sliced tomato. My vegetarian guest had to opt for the only vegetarian dish on the menu: Crunchy Green Avocado Salad. A salad arrived – crunchy and green – but without avocado. The lettuce, kale and radish were left to fend for themselves.
The main courses were neither complimented by the sides that we were not particularly encouraged to order. “Would I need to get something to accompany the Swordfish or is it large enough?” “That would depend on how hungry you are” came the response at 7pm on a Saturday evening. It would seem that Iddu don’t frequently feed people who are hungry.
And so when the sides arrived there was more dismay. The Mixed green Italian leaves and quinoa was unimaginatively just leaves topped with a sprinkling of quinoa, while my request for the sweet potato salad had been ignored and I was instead given the Rocket, pumpkin seeds & parmesan salad.
The delay for the food to arrive, the bored waiters and our need to be elsewhere meant we decided to just eat and get on with it. Oh but wait, we had no cutlery. A request for cutlery ensued. “Yes,” we were told. We watched the waiter head to the bar and began a lengthy discussion with his two colleagues before he left and headed to the kitchen. We paused. I signaled for the other waiter and repeated my request. “Yes.” He unapologetically returned with knives and forks.
We stuck to the famed granita for dessert to try to capture the true Sicillian spirit. We hoped what we had so far experienced was another bad day at the office. The granita, served in a glass, was enjoyable but really quite forgettable. Because it is made with water, granita is a lighter version of sorbet – very in tune with all that Iddu aspires to offer. We sampled Lemon and Fig, although the fig variety tasted suspiciously like melon which was also on the menu.
And so Iddu is the sort of place you go if you like to be teased with food. If you don’t really mind what you receive after ordering, if you are at a loose end and aren’t particularly hungry or if you like a good salad – salad appears as a starter, main, side and dessert.
This small Sicilian restaurant proves that first impressions really do count. Will it be third time lucky?
Iddu, 44 Harrington Rd, SW7 3NDShare This Post