Gattis: Great Italian Theatre Without An Audience

21 Jul 2016

When I turned 21, I hired a bouncy castle, bought a piñata and made party bags to celebrate the occasion. The year after, I dragged my friends to The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, the Breakfast Club’s ‘secret’ cocktail bar reached only by whispering a password and travelling through a fake Smeg fridge door.

The following year, I was living in a hostel in Australia, sharing a birthday with a Dane named Simon. We decided on a ‘famous duos’ theme [my friend and I teaming up to go as fish and chips]. So, it’s safe to say I love a bit of role-play. After a thorough research of Gatti’s, I was expecting full-blown theatre. The type where you question whether the waiters have been briefed to say things like “that’s howa mama used to make it” in heavily accented English. I was totally prepared to fall in love.

Given its location, I’d expected to be greeted with a room full of suited city-types. Yet, when we arrived we were greeted with a room full of, well, no one. Just three tables in this generous sized restaurant were occupied, including us. In the interest of fairness, when an establishment is hidden amongst a concrete jungle of offices, a Friday night isn’t likely to be prime time. I was reassured the busiest night of the week is a Thursday.

The name of the restaurant was chosen to pay homage to Mr Luigi Gatti, manager of The Ritz restaurant on board the Titanic, which perhaps explains why the décor had us travelling back in time. We didn’t quite manage to reach 1912, instead stepping out of our nostalgia portal in the 70’s, confronted with exposed red-brick, linen table-cloths and a bona fide dessert trolley. I’m sure it would’ve seemed more charming had the room been filled with other patrons.

We began the night with Gatti’s speciality, the new Veuve Clicquot Rich. A real treat, this was served over ice and savoured with untraditional accompaniments like chopped red peppers, cucumber and pineapple. Cucumber was a clear winner.

Dean Martin’s dulcet tones floated melodically across the room as we settled into our first course. We chose from the restaurant’s two new, self-explanatory Contemporary and Classics menus, opting for the Capesante, deliciously seared Pacific scallops served on a bed of spinach and chopped, crispy bacon, and the Beef Carpaccio, a plate of perfectly compact diced raw meat with a sprinkling of parmesan shavings to complement.

For mains, we shared the Linguine All’Aragosta, chunks of white, fleshy lobster, delicate linguine and fragrantly fresh tomatoes, and the Scottata di Tonno – pan-fried tuna steak coated in sesame seeds with pistachio pesto. Dessert was a trio of dinky shot glasses, filled with fluffy tiramisu, dense chocolate orange mousse and a tart panna cotta. We may have shared a deliciously aromatic bottle of Pinot Noir, too. Maybe. Both menus offer three courses including a class of Veuve Clicquot Rich champagne for £34.99.

Despite the slightly eerie ghost town atmosphere, we had a thoroughly enjoyable, belly-busting evening of good old-fashioned Italian home cooking. Though I didn’t quite fall in love this time, I’d still recommend it for a client lunch. Just make sure you book it for a weekday. Unless of course, you want to pretend you’ve hired the whole place for the evening. Then, well, fill your boots.

Elisse

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