I love being taken by friends to their neighbourhood restaurants that would otherwise escape me, just as they seem to escape the foodie airways.
|Squid ink tagliolini with prawns, squid and clams|
We have some very fun Dutch friends with whom we always end up having nights of hilarity. Last time, we started off at the Fernandez & Wells wine bar (a personal fav), then ate tapas at Tierra Brindisa (which was, frankly, disappointing, particularly as it was my pick - although we had a ball and got marvellously sloshed anyway), before stumbling across a doorway leading to some entertainingly bad club in Soho.
This time around, Mrs Dutchie is decidedly preggers so we were up for something far more serene and dignified. Our friends booked a table at one of their favourite local Italians, Timo in Kensington.
It looks cute from the outside, and inside things are all very inoffensive and Kensington - white walls, crisp linen tablecloths, polished service, a sophisticated clientele. It's small and elegant, and tables are spacious. We are the noisiest people in the room. But I like it immediately. One has to brush off the Soho cobwebs every now and then.
Manager Piero Amodio visits several times, oozing some old school Italian charm, and before long we've polished off our lovely, buttery chardonnay (you can take the Aussies out Australia but...) and we've moved on to the first of many excellent red wines (which was probably much to Mr Dutchie's relief).
The pasta dishes are all great. I absolutely love my special of the day - silky squid ink tagliolini with juicy prawns, squid and clams. Mrs Dutchie's ravioli filled with cream of aubergines, fresh goats cheese, butter and sage goes down well, and Mr Dutchie's humongous plate of risotto with porcini mushrooms and parmesan gets the thumbs up. TPG's lemony tagliolini with fresh crab meat, white wine, garlic, chilli, fennel is zingy and fresh - I like it a lot, but he's rather jealous of mine. Fork fights ensue.
My veal escalope is nice, but can't compete with the smashing veal chop I had at Tinello a few weeks earlier, and the boys' char grilled Scotch rib-eye steaks are slightly overcooked. But the vibe is good, we're drinking great wines and everyone's happy.
Expect to pay around £40 per head plus wine and service, or book before 8pm from Monday-Thursday and have 2 courses for £13.90 or 3 courses for £16.
We forgo dessert for Dutch biscuits and night caps at Chez Mr and Mrs Dutchie. But I'm left with an overall good impression of Timo and not just because they gave us free limoncellos and grappas to finish. If I was a local, I'd certainly be making a regular appearance to try out more. You can never have too many good, neighborhood Italian restaurants up your sleeve.
Timo, 343 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London, W8 6NW (Tel: 020 7603 3888)