Once upon a time, not so many years ago, Bermondsey Street was a pretty nondescript place where people went to buy antique and period furniture from one of the many warehouses there. The coolest thing about it was being the home of ‘The Stage’, the thespians’ newspaper. It wasn’t an area where you’d want to hang out – especially at night. Nowadays, it’s definitely an area on trend, with great restaurants, untold numbers of coffee shops and, of course, the White Cube Gallery. A friend recommended Antico, an Italian restaurant, so three of us went for lunch to try it out.
Antico is located at the top end of the street at the junction with Long Lane and its name means ‘antiques’ – a trade that’s still important in this area. The restaurant has a welcoming and cosy feel about it and, although we went quite near the end of service, it was still pretty full, giving it a good buzzy atmosphere. Since it was a non-work day for all three of us, we got straight in to aperitifs – Aperol spritz for them, Bellini for me – perfect openers! First impressions were very good then.
Starters – olives for Mrs D, lobster salad for brother of Mrs D and braised octopus salad for me. Salads were light, nicely dressed and well-presented. We pondered for ages about the mains – usually Mrs D and I end up choosing the same thing, so boringly predictable are we, but this time it was different. I went for the calves liver and bacon while both Mrs and brother chose the rose veal chop. Rose veal is the ethically produced variety which is endorsed by the RSPCA’s ‘Freedom Food’ scheme – it’s ok to eat veal again after the formerly cruel production methods were outlawed. The liver was perfectly cooked and served with chard, a kind of cross between kale and spinach – not a green I was familiar with, but tasting better than either of those. The veal was succulent and full of flavour, a real winner. All washed down with a nice bottle of Montepulciano – lovely! Three courses at lunch time? Surely not – well actually yes, because what we’d seen being served up looked interesting, very interesting. So two almond and cherry tarts and one tiramisu duly ordered along with coffee. Outcome? Dessert heaven!
If you think this cost an arm and a leg, you’d be wrong, as we took advantage of a special offer of 25% off the food bill. Also there is a set lunch and early evening dinner menu for £15 for two courses and £19 for three, which is very good value indeed, considering the quality on offer. All three of us were very impressed with Antico – the food, the ambience and the value for money. If you love really good Italian food this place is definitely for you.