Please Mr. Barker — look and see
What are the chances for a city boy
It’s always nice to find restaurants where the prices are unaggressive but the quality of the food and cooking are uncompromised. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Giaconda Dining Room where the chef was cooking up a storm in the centre of town. There’s a lot of similarities between Giaconda and 500 a new Italian joint near Archway.
The chef and owner make much of their CV which includes place like Passione, Jamie and Neal Street but really all that matters is how the current place performs. Luckily, working with the thick-lipped one hasn’t affected them and they’ve created a very enjoyable restaurant in an area not over-endowed with decent restaurants.
On the way down from Archway Tube - negotiating the drunks and hoodies with their pit bull crosses - it’s very easy to miss 500. Once inside, however, you find a basic but tidy little restaurant. The menu is short but has something for everybody from veggies to normal people.
A snack portion of deep fried ravioli was a good start: crisp, greaseless, small parcels of pasta came with just the right amount of provola cheese and mint.
Pappardelle with Red Snapper Ragu was a generous plate of excellent pasta with a well judged tomato-based sauce of the fish. This was a most impressive dish and showed the skill and lightness of touch of the kitchen.
Coniglio alla sicilina was several huge chunks of moist rabbit that had been lightly braised with dried tomatoes, olives and pistachios. The sauce was not over-reduced and was pretty good. There was maybe a bit too many tomatoes and olives but this was still a gutsy, generous dish at a very reasonable price.
Gelati and Sorbetti were homemade and delicious – I sort of knew they would be.
The only small misfires were the quite ordinary bread and the poor espresso which was bad enough to make an Italian weep. But these were minor niggles compared to the meal as a whole.
If you’ve read my write-up you’ll know how much I liked L’Anima and subsequently the critics have jumped upon the Dos Hemanos bandwagon (as usual) and recommended it to high heaven. But, and there’s always a but, it isn’t the cheapest joint on the block. So if you find the prices at L’Anima a bit rich jump on the High Barnet bound Northern Line at Old Street, alight at Archway and give 500 a try. You’ll still find the soul but with a bit less ouch.