NB, I’m assuming that most people in London will have read, ad nauseum about Spuntino by now. If you have, apologies. Come back soon for something a little different.

“So, is Spuntino good?”

That was the question I was asked on Saturday night after I revealed we’d just been- our fourth visit. And I’ll give you the same answer I gave them. “Yes, if you’re in the right mood”.

Five months from its opening Spuntino is still as self consciously cool as ever. 

It might have something to do with its family. Spuntino’s siblings include Russell Norman and co’s other successes in Central London; Polpo, Da Polpo and Polpetto.

It might have something to do with the menu. Spuntino plays directly into the current trash/comfort food  craving , boasting pulled pork sliders, macaroni and cheese and a dessert ‘sandwich’ of peanut butter and jelly.

It might have something to do with the location. A restaurant that sits happily directly opposite a XXX store, in the murky middle of Rupert Street has to fairly sure of itself.

The space is artfully distressed, with  a mottled mosaic of distressed tiles on the wall and an aluminum U shaped bar dominating the room. It’s got the sheen of an Aero Trailer. The sort of caravan that might  scorch your skin after  time in the sun.  Along the bar brown paper placemats double as menus. There are individual stools to sit on and a double ‘couple’s seat’ at one end. Beneath the bar there are hooks for your bags and room for people to stand behind you as they wait for a perch. There is no phone number for Spuntino. And there are no bookings either.

The first time we went it was brunch.  It’s a solid place to go on a Saturday morning if you’re feeling a little seedy. For one, there aren’t the hoards you might find here at  8.30pm on a Friday night. For two; a good chunk of the menu is brunch/hangover friendly.

Exhibit a) The truffled egg toast. It’s a gussied up toad in a hole, congealed with cheese and the whiff of truffle. The yolk is as loose as a carefree woman.  It’s as rich as hell, so not a bad call to share it.

Exhibit b) Egg and soldiers (£3.5) A googy egg, niftily given a shell of spices and seeds, with stout fingers of buttered toast.

It would be easy to roll in at 11 am, nurse a hangover and then indulge in some hair of the dog and more mature fodder.

The drinks list is taut, but solid. Meantime Pale Ale is served at £2.50 for a half pint. The other option is Moretti. There’s a short selection of wine by the glass and carafe and an impressively stocked bar, with suggestions of cocktails that pack a punch.  Negroni anyone?

At 6pm on a Saturday evening, a campari on ice is a thrifty way to start. It’s served with a mug of spiced popcorn. A nice (though cheap) gift that encourages you to drink more.

Good choices to eat include the ground beef slider, the perfect sized burger for a ten year old’s hands. The bun is brioche and the beef is softened by using bone marrow for fat.  The other slider options vary, from spiced mackerel, to lamb, to a sweet take on pulled pork, with slivers of crackling for crunch.
Mac and cheese comes in a portion built for sharing, or trouser busting.

It’s slippery with cheese and cream and crusted with breadcrumbs.  A pangrattato salad with fat slices of heritage tomatoes and juice soaked croutons is almost a necessity for cut through from the swamp of carbs, fat and dairy.

Most of the food falls in line with the mood of an American Diner. There are grits and fries, and a rather bland version of steak and eggs (a thin grilled steak, topped with a fried egg).

And then there’s a few more international small plates, like eggplant chips, crusted with fennel and caraway with a fennel seed yogurt dip, or a prosaic beetroot, ricotta and rocket salad, with green leaves poking out like wares at a messy garage sale.

Desserts are a highlight, particularly their twist on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s two slices of peanut parfait, layered with a rustic raspberry jam.

Others, like a brown sugar cheesecake are sweetly satisfying, while a liquorice  ice cream with pineapple carpaccio is a lovely flavour combination, but unruly to eat, with the slices of pineapple flapping off your fork like recalcitrant noodles.

Though that might have something to do with the cutlery. The diner aesthetics extend to the enth degree here. Which means the kind of blunted cutlery that it’s safe to have in institutions. Plates are blue and white striped enamel, which makes you feel like you should be in a caravan somewhere. And all beverages, including prosecco is served in tumblers (a current bug bear of mine).  There’s no espresso, coffee is percolated, and if you want extra salt and pepper, it comes as powder in crummy little shakers.

Eggplant chips in the enamel plates

All of these add to the aesthetic, but depending on who you are, they may not add to the appeal.

Then there are some other  eye catching aspects to the place. Namely the staff. There are some impressive tattoos. Artful mops of hair and some soulful expressions. And beneath the East London checkered shirts there are pants which  hang bloody low. So be prepared – in this  small bar space where they’re frequently required to bend and scrape for necessary bits and pieces of equipment, you’ll often cop more than an eyeful.

Spuntino has been open since March. Considering how often we’ve been, I’ll say it fits a dining itch we feel like scratching once every six weeks or so.

Go if you’re at the start or close of a binge. If you need a hard drink or some soft food. If you want to feel a touch cooler by being around other people who feel the same. 

If you’re in that mood, you’ll probably have a bloody good time.

And if not, well- let me know how you go.


Spuntino

61 Rupert St
Soho, W1D 7PW
Tube: Leicester Square
http://www.spuntino.co.uk/
Open Monday- Saturday 11 am- Midnight
Open Sunday 12pm – Midnight

Spuntino on Urbanspoon