Review: Mennula

Mimi ON May 13, 2011 AT 11:30 am



by John Gregory-Smith

Mennula is a tiny little Sicilian restaurant on Charlotte Street, decked out in white, with purple flowers on the tables and a few painted on the walls. The centrepiece was the food, which relied on perfectly combined, beautifully fresh, seasonal British and Sicilian produce. It was fantastic.

We started off with a few plates of stuzzichini, small entrees, of chickpea fritters (£3) that were fried crisps of beautifully seasoned pureed chickpeas and Nduja spicy salami with crostino (£4).  The salami was almost like a pate, dark red with spices, with a real kick to it and a wonderfully gutsy porky flavour.

For our starters we had the seared Cornish squid and Sicilian fennel caponatina drizzled with squid ink (£10.50). This good-looking starter was amazing. Smoky charred quills of squid that were nestled into a chunky caponatina, made from braised fennel, raisons, pinenuts and chilli. The fennel had a lovely sweet fresh taste, which worked so well with the pine nuts and raisons. I had the special of the day, which was a scallop risotto with chilli and rocket that had a lovely fresh lemony dressing and was flecked with little pieces of scallops that gave it a really strong flavour.

For our mains we had the Monkfish ossobuco style saffron risotto (£21.50) and the fillet of English veal pan-fried with aubergine Sicilian tomatoes and smoked mozzarella (£24.50). The monkfish was beautifully cooked, just on the turn and sat on a bed of sweet ripe juicy tomatoes and golden yellow risotto. It was drizzled with a bright green, garlicky, gremolata that brought everything to life. The milky pink tender veal, which was drizzled in an intense jus, was served sliced up with a smoked mozzarella, aubergine and tomato tower that had been baked until soft and covered in a lovely salty parmesan sauce that was really delicious.

For our desserts we had a dense amadei chocolate and almond torte served with a rich green pistachio ice cream (£7) and warm Sicilian doughnuts, which were made to order and served hot, covered in sugar and truffle blanco shavings. They were sweet and crisp with a wonderfully earthy truffle flavour. We washed these down with a glass of my favourite pudding wine, Ben Rye, which is like cold Christmas in glass, I love it!

Head Chef Santino Busciglio described the food of his home country as simple and seasonal, with recipes and ingredients passed down from generation to generation. I have to say my family never lathered truffle shavings on anything, which I will defiantly be doing from now on, despite my non-Sicilian heritage.


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