AT HOTEL INDIGO

{THEO'S SIMPLE ITALIAN}

As like many people, one of my favourite cuisines has to be Italian, and in fact although I’m Spanish, the majority of stuff I cook at home is Italian influenced. I love how they take a few simple fresh ingredients and turn them into something rather special. The way they achieve this, is by not over-complicating dishes and letting the ingredients stand out and do the talking.

 

Over the years I’ve eaten in lots of different Italian restaurants, some very good and sadly, some very bad. Only a few have been able to deliver the passion and excitement that comes with this famous cuisine, and thanks to Theo’s Simple Italian, I recently ate one of the best Italian meals I’ve ever had outside of Italy.

Back in July my wife and I packed our bags and headed down south to cross off one of the many restaurants from my ever-growing list. As Theo’s Simple Italian is in London, and it so happened to be my birthday weekend, we thought we would make a weekend of it and stay for a couple of nights.

 

For those of you who are not already aware, Theo’s is located inside the Hotel Indigo which is situated in the heart of Kensington, so it only made sense that we stayed there.

 

The hotel was originally built as a luxurious Victorian townhouse which dates back as far as the 1800’s. The area immediately surrounding the Hotel Indigo was owned by the wealthy and influential Gunter family, proprietors of a confectionery company (they were famously responsible for creating Queen Victoria’s wedding cake); and the highly fashionable Gunter’s Tea Shop. They drove the creation of the beautiful communal gardens which still punctuate the area, and helped make the district into a nexus of wealth and power. Although the outside of the hotel still has the same traits as it did all those years ago and looks like a scene from a Charles Dickens novel, the inside is a completely different story altogether.

 

When you walk through the doors of the Hotel Indigo you are greeted with a big smile and a warm welcome from the reception staff, who stand behind a beautiful large front desk which takes centre stage in the reception. The room is lit with modern lighting, the walls are draped in elegant green curtains, and retro chairs sit in the bay window looking out to the street. The reception just oozes relaxation and instantly sets the scene for an enjoyable stay.

Once checked in it was time to see our room, which was located on the ground floor. As we walked through the hallway to our room I noticed a really cool feature that I’ve never seen in any other hotel. All the bedroom doors are actual front doors, with a spy hole and a knocker. The only thing that was missing was the doorbell and letterbox.

We opened the door to room 014 and walked into a beautiful room with a large and very inviting bed, a brightly painted wardrobe which when opened, revealed a fully stocked fridge with beer, wine and other goodies. There was lots of light courtesy of a large bay window looking out onto the street, and like in the reception, a couple of funky chairs and a coffee table. Once unpacked we decided to freshen up and relax for a while before heading down to eat at Theo’s.

Theo’s Simple Italian is separated into 3 rooms, 2 dining rooms and a bar; and I believe they also have a private dining room. The bar offers a few tables for you to eat at as well as seating around the bar itself. You could imagine Dean Martin and the rest of the Rat Pack sitting at the bar drinking Martini’s and enjoying a big bowl of pasta. The bar area also doubles as an Italian deli, where you can purchase various Italian produce like Carnaroli rice, pasta, tin tomatoes and of course Theo’s recipe book. I was going to buy a couple of bits to take home but, ended up forgetting.

We walked into the dining room where we were greeted by Vincenzo, who very kindly showed us to our table and started us off with a couple of glasses of very nice Aperol Spritz. The menu was a great size not overloaded with a countless number of dishes like you see in some restaurants. I’ve always said less is more, especially when it comes to menus. It really puts me off when a menu is massive and makes me question the freshness and quality of the food.

I’ve watched Theo Randall many times on TV and I’ve always wanted to try his food and now the time had come. It wasn’t an easy decision choosing what to have as I wanted to order everything off the menu, but with the help from Vincenzo and his excellent knowledge of the menu; we made our choices and we couldn’t wait to start eating. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long and before we knew it, Vincenzo was placing our starters in front of us.

I choose to have the Polpa Grigliato (Fresh grilled octopus with a fennel orange and olive salad whilst my wife went with the Cozze allá Marinara (Fresh mussels cooked in a tomato, white wine, garlic and parsley sauce served with toasted sourdough). I don’t generally order octopus because I’ve had so many bad experiences with it. So often it’s overcooked and like a rubber band. On this occasion, it was cooked beautifully, and the fennel salad complimented the octopus perfectly. If you are not a lover of octopus this dish could change your opinion for life. What can I say about the mussels, such a simple dish where the star attractions are the mussels themselves. Big, fat and juicy in a stunning broth, with just a small hint of heat which made it so Moorish. I could have drunk the bowl dry but lucky we had the bread to dip in.

 

We finished our starters, the plates were cleared, and we were very excited for what was to come next. Vincenzo poured us a glass of red and a glass of white which he recommended would suit our chosen dishes. I went with the Agnello Grigliato (Grilled lamb rump served with grilled vegetables and a red pepper sauce) along with a glass of Fantini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo My wife chose the Risotto Limone e Rosmarino (Risotto made with carnaroli rice, Amalfi lemons and fresh rosemary) with a glass of Ponte del Diavolo.

 

My lamb was so tender that you didn’t need a knife, you could cut it with a spoon and it just melted in the mouth. A quality piece of meat doesn’t require much and this dish was a prime example of that. The rump was cooked to perfection and if my memory services me correctly, the grilled vegetables that came with it was courgette, aubergine and cherry tomatoes and it all came together in perfect harmony with the pepper sauce. I will most definitely be recreating this dish myself at home in the not too distant future. Risotto is another one of those dishes I avoid ordering in a restaurant because 9 times out of 10 it’s overcooked and the rice is like mush. You know it’s going to be a bad one when it comes out in the shape of a chef ring or just piled high and doesn’t move even if you turn the plate upside down! A risotto should be like lava and should ooze all over the plate. As you would imagine this risotto was like no other, it was light and so fresh tasting. The first taste you get is a huge hit of freshness from the stunning Amalfi lemons followed by the fresh rosemary which is another one of those typical Italian flavours, which combined with the lemons make for a perfect marriage in flavour town.

We finished our meal with a couple of desserts, I had the roasted peaches with amaretto biscuits and vanilla ice and my wife had ice cream and a coffee. The whole meal was beautiful and if I didn’t live so far away I would be a Theo’s regular, but maybe that’s a good thing that I don’t live so close, otherwise I would eat so much octopus that I could possibly turn into one.

 

We rounded off the night with a stroll around Kensington then off to our room for a cup of tea then off to sleep in our large and oh so comfy bed.

The next morning, we were going out for the day and would not be back until the afternoon, so on the way out we had a breakfast in the hotel. The breakfast menu covered everything that you could want. In the bar area, they have a large spread for you to choose from which offers artisan breads, pastries, cereals, fruit, yoghurt, cheese and cold cuts as well as lots of different juices to choose from. If you want something hot, they also offer a full hot breakfast with dishes such as The Full Monty, Vegan Breakfast, Eggs Benedict and homemade Porridge. I went with the Full Monty which comprised of sausage, bacon, mushroom, black pudding, tomato, baked beans and a fried egg, while the wife went with the porridge that comes with a compote, fruit and seeds. We washed this all down with a good old pot of tea before hitting London for the day. We arrived back at the hotel later that day and before heading back to the room we had a drink in the bar where we met with the beautiful Lauren, the Sales and Marketing manager and had a good chat. That evening we ate outside of the hotel, and went for a meal and a couple of drinks around Notting Hill. We then had an early night as we had to be up early the following morning to head back to north.

After another night in room 014, it was time to get up and check out, which believe me is not an easy thing to do as the bed was so comfy I could’ve stayed there all day. We grabbed a bite to eat, gathered our belongings and headed to reception to check out. As on arrival at the hotel we were once again greeted with a big smile from the reception staff, we handed over our key cards and sadly it was time to say goodbye and make our way to Earls Court tube station.

 

I cannot thank the staff from the hotel and restaurant enough. We were made to feel welcome and special from the moment we walked through the doors until the moment we left. It was a wonderful couple of days in a beautiful hotel with amazing Italian food, and if you didn’t know otherwise, you would have thought you were in Italy. I would like to give an extra special thank you to Lauren and Vincenzo for making our stay a memorable one we really appreciated everything you did for us.

 

The only regret I have from my stay is that I didn’t get to meet Theo, oh well maybe next time.

Now time for the rating….

 

  • Service = 5

  • Atmosphere = 5

  • Food presentation = 5

  • Food quality = 5

  • Waiting time = 5

  • Value = 5

 

Total 30 out of 30

 

 

www.theossimpleitalian.co.uk
020 7370 9130

ciao@theosimpleitalian.co.uk

34-44 Barkston Gardens, Earls Court

London, SW5 0EW

 

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Review posted on the 12th August 2018

Visited Monday 29th July 2018

WE ALL WEAR BLUE APRONS IN MY KITCHEN

BECAUSE WE'RE ALL COMMIS,

WE'RE ALL STILL LEARNING..

 

---- MARCO PIERRE WHITE ----