Wednesday, December 24, 2008

L'Italia a Tavola

3B Monson Road,
Tunbridge Wells TN1 1LS Map

We've popped in to L'Italia a Tavola for a coffee occasionally and my wife picked up and excellent picnic basket in the summer so we decided to try the Christmas meal that they offered.

The subtly lit tiny restaurant and warm welcome offered a very nice cosy refuge from the cold outside and we were presented with a bellini each along with olives and bread as soon as we were seated.

My starters was a really nice lentil and vegetable soup, very Italian and an excellent beginning to the meal. My wife had a chicken broth with meat filled tortellini which she said was nice, but to be honest, mine looked and smelt a lot better.

Next, came a mushroom crespelle with a mushroom and truffle sauce. With my love of all things fungoid, it was perfect for me and it was very, very tasty. It came with a rocket and parmesan salad and, as I'm not a huge salad lover, my wife half-inched it and declared that it was an excellent example of her favourite salad. The meat main course was venison with a redcurrant sauce (I think) which my wife enjoyed and said was very good.

I finished the meal with a cheese platter which was, again, very good although something like a fig or other sweet fruit would've been a nice accompaniment and a coffee.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening. There were only four tables eating (it is a very small place) but everyone kept themselves very much to themselves. It would've been nice if there was some interaction between the diners, and maybe a touch more festive music or something. We made an effort by pulling our crackers and wearing our hats, but we seemed to be the only table that did. Not to worry, the food was still extremely good and, from my experience of Italian fayre, very authentic.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Il Vesuvio, Tunbridge Wells

112 Camden Road
Tunbridge Wells TN1 2QX Map

We were at a loose end in Tunbridge Wells one lunchtime when I remembered a review of Il Vesuvio on the Eating Out in Tunbridge Wells website.

We arrived just as it opened and were given a warm welcome and seated in the window. The restaurant itself is really airy and is decorated in a style to make you think you've just stepped off of a Neapolitan street, with murals of Vesuvious overlooking the bay and other Italianate features adorning the walls.

We weren't overly hungry and decided to share a plate of Grigliata Di Vegetali Con Pinzimonio which was a plate of grilled vegetables consisting of courgettes, aubergines and peppers marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. While we were waiting, the restaurant became very smoky, so I guess it's safe to say that they were freshly grilled!

We ordered some bread to accompany the vegetable and they were really good, and the last of the bread was used to mop up the juices, which is always a good sign.

We honeymooned in Sorrento, and I have fond memories of sitting at a cafe eating gnocchi with tomato sauce and mozarella, so I decided to see what I Vesuvio's Gnocchi Sorrento was like. It was extremely hot! However, I was warned and after I let it cool down, it was very tasty. The sauce was good and "tomatoey" and the cheese very stringy. The gnocchi itself was firm and not too heavy. My wife had a spaghetti bolognaise and she said that the pasta was slightly undercooked, but not enough to spoil it.

We both enjoyed our meals and the price was pretty good. We were the only ones in there for the most part, although another table came in as we were finishing so I can't comment on the atmosphere. The service was great and the people were very friendly and Il Vesuvio is definitely on our list to go back to.