Authentic Italian at Qvintessenza, Borough
Restaurant Review: Qvintessenza, Borough
Style Points: 3/5
If you've been to Italy, you will be aware that everything tastes better there. And I mean everything. Their ingredients are fresh, the food has so much flavour and texture and it begs the question, what on earth have we been eating all these years?
In a rather unassuming spot by Borough station, Qvintessenza is both humble and proud at the same time. At this authentic Italian restaurant the waiting staff were some of the friendliest I have encountered and everything reminded me of my recent trip to Italy, right down to being encouraged to finish what was on my plate. We are first offered Prosecco as an aperitivo and the chef kindly offered to put a selection together so we can sample various dishes.
What's on the menu?
We started with crostini bread and a cod pate opposite a snapper pate. The pate was a perfect smooth consistency and the snapper had that distinctively stronger taste, all balanced by the golden crunch of the crostini. Then we tried the tuna tartare which was super fresh and light with a subtle flavour and a stronger flavour coming through from the capers and olives, this was served with a long breadstick.
Next up, we had roast beef all'Ingless: thin slices of roast beef served cold, flavoursome but still light and not heavy to digest. The meats were surrounded by a creamy sauce and a sprinkling of crunchy caramelised orange zest which took us by surprise (seriously I need to try this at home).
Our mains which we surprisingly still had room for was the lightest most heavenly pasta dish. It was carbonara di spado - a spaghetti carbonara but not as you know it, the spaghetti was so thin and light - I didn't even feel like I was eating carbs! Also, it is cooked with chunks of swordfish rather than bacon, genius!! Guilt-free carbonara.
How can we possibly eat any more? Well it looks too delicious to turn away, so here goes. Fried seafood in a crunchy nest of carrots and courgettes. We had octopus, prawns and sardines hidden inside. Again, this is a dish that would usually be quite heavy in batter or breadcrumbs but it was light, fresh, a little salty but not overpowering and tasted so good!
For desserts, we had cheesecake which was served with ice cream. The sorbet was served elegantly in a what looked like a margarita glass with an edible (at least I hope it was) flower gracefully placed on top. The lemon sorbet or sorbetto al limone was incredibly refreshing and cleansed the palet, I also hear the sorbet is laced with a splash of vodka, there are no complaints here.
Could I afford to dine here again?
The prices on the menu at Qvintessenza mean that a 3-course meal for 2 (without drinks) could cost only £40 each which I think is considerably affordable for the high quality of food. If you get tempted into buying copious glasses of their lovely wine, it may take it up a notch.
Qvintessenza describe their culinary style as "traditional reinterpreted" which is plain to see. They are proud of their selection of fine and rare wines from Italy. At Qvintessenza you don't feel like you are at a typical restaurant in the city, here you feel like you could be tucked away in an Italian countryside with a very hospitable host family. Until you have to continue your commute home, that is.
We had some wonderful tasting dishes from pate and cured meats, to seafood and pasta dishes. I would definitely return for more good food and excellent service.