All Day Dining & More @ Florentine, Lambeth

06 Aug 2017

Florentine is by no means off the beaten track in Lambeth North, but I don’t know that you would ever walk past it when looking for somewhere to eat. However, if you do manage to pull yourself away from the other places that are nearby in Waterloo then yes, you’ll definitely be rewarded.

It’s got the making of the usual modern-day restaurant: an open kitchen, trendy lights, shiny floors, dark toilets with those luxury paper towels (yep, you know the ones I mean), splashes of copper and an open reception area. Everything is good looking and well put together.

Their menu is about all day dining – ideal for a restaurant that’s linked to a hotel. There is an impressive variety that won’t scare you off. You could easily find something you fancied without it being in danger of ending up like a Chinese restaurant with an ‘English’ section, offering frozen pies and omelettes that moved into the freezer on the wrong side of the noughties.

When my friend and I went along last month we definitely had too much food. I’d forgotten the kind of dedication it takes to complete a three-course meal.

As we sat a selection of rustic bread with rosemary and sea salt (£2), Gaeta green olives (£3), and roasted almonds (£3) was placed on our table. It’s hard to resist the urge to spoil your appetite, especially when encouraged by our waiter to order some okra tempura (£4) to top the starters off. These were, however, an excellent recommendation. Each one was delicately encased in a bubbly batter, miraculously ungreasy, crunchy and light. Excuse me Chef, just what is your secret?!

We could have stopped there, sipping on our Branble,(£8.50) and Florentine Fizz (£8.75) cocktails, tuning in and out to the live music which was at a comfortably audible level. A far cry from those terrible evenings in the village hall as a teenager watching your mates band whose only objection was to play as loud as possible. Not giving two hoots about it being in time or even, on most occasions, the right song.

By the time we’d finished our cocktails and stupidly filled up on bread, the mains arrived. The braised lamb shank (£15) with mashed potatoes and jus sautéed along with my choice of grilled yellowfin tuna steak (£16) green beans, tomato chimichurri and some spinach on the side (£4) were earth-rolleringly good. The lamb shank fell from the bone like it was frightened of itself and the tuna was cooked so well that it practically melted in my mouth – if it’s possible for tuna to even do so.

The puddings were also a joy. The cheesecake (£5) was so thick and heavy it could have easily been used to anchor a boat. It definitely outshone the tiramisu (£5) my dining partner was tucking into, but let’s not tell him that as he’s very competitive.

Along with the waiters making their song and dance about your table, the best ingredients, terms on the menu you’ve never heard of, and the generous portion sizes, Florentina will make you feel rather spoilt. I’d go again in a heartbeat.

Lindsey

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