Antico, 214 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3TQ

Set in an old antique warehouse… I wonder how Antico got its name?

There’s an ever-increasing buzz on Bermondsey Street. Adding to this buzz and its portfolio of great restaurants, Antico, the first venture from Nick Crispini has recently opened. Set in a newly renovated antiques warehouse, it didn’t feel new, it seems to have settled in nicely, almost like it’s been there for years. Outside the entrance is typical old style Italian, homely and rustic but inside it has a modern, slightly industrial, feel. Although not so much so that it looks like everywhere else at the moment. I loved the huge clock on the exposed brick wall, but wasn’t so keen on the basement bar that felt quite detached with a totally different look. Despite the fact that we work just a twenty-minute walk away, we have never been to a Bermondsey Street establishment, a ‘foodie’ hub of London, which we are aware is quite shocking for food bloggers. No, we have no been to José, Pizarro, Zucca, … Oh, I have been to the lovely Garrison though, but that was the office christmas party (the best one yet). I wanted to go to Zucca so very badly until I was alerted to their £25 ‘cakeage’ charge, if you want to bring your own celebration cake! It’s even one of the first things that flashes up when you go to their website, naughty! Someone had described the area is being similar to New York, I wouldn’t go that far but it is pretty cool.

Not a filament bulb in sight – how refreshing

Menu had been working flat out…

Antico was fairly quiet when we arrived, sodden from the rain and in desperate need of a drink, we started with a gigantic Aperol spritz £7, sweeter than the ones we’re used to but still good. The menu is short and the wine list extensive, it’s nice to see more of a choice of carafes. Sometimes a whole bottle can be a bit much on a school night especially if cocktails are involved too. We opted for a carafe of 2009 Rosso Piceno DOC Saladini Pilastri £14.

Lucky we were sat right next to the specials board so I didn’t have to put my glasses on or send Ade over to read it. Our starters arrived before we’d had a chance to finish our Foccacia and Nocerella olives £4 which meant our drink rota was behind schedule, we didn’t get onto our wine until halfway through our mains. The plump Sicilian olives were slightly bitter, we’re fond of the huge creamy variety, the bread perfect, often a good sign of what’s to follow. I wasn’t too sure about our waiter (who sounded just like Chico) at first, he seemed a bit abrupt and inpatient but he softened as the evening went on. I suspect he goes down a treat with the ladies, of which there were many.

A huge glass of Aperol spritz

The Foccacia bread was a taste of things to come

A very simple starter

Delicious Devon crab

My starter of Devon Crab, Radish, Shallots & Rocket £8 was excellent. Simple, light and fresh, the crab the tastiest I have ever eaten. Ade’s Thinly sliced pork loin, rocket, parmesan and mustard dressing £5 from the specials board was perhaps a bit too simple, the pork was so delicate, not enough oomph, thick generous shavings of parmesan are what made it for Ade as did the peppery rocket and mustard dressing flavour combo.

At last a cheeseless risotto

Pretty in pink!

Again mains arrived pretty sharpish, I had been looking forward to my Monkfish, Tomato, Chilli & Garlic Risotto £14 ever since I spotted it on the menu the weekend before. It didn’t disappoint. It’s the kind of arrangement usually served with pasta rather than in a risotto but it really worked, possibly a tad too garlicy creating a slightly overpowering aftertaste, and I like garlic. Very importantly there was plenty of monkfish, and the perfect bite to the rice. Ade adored his “Bolton Abbey” Roasted Lamb Rump, Caponata, Mint Oil £18. The meat was pink and juicy in the middle with a crisp salty crust, the caponata (Sicilian aubergine stew) met his approval too, and he’s not usually a big fan of ‘veggie’ dishes. It held the far bolder flavours that we love.

The restaurant was full by now (mostly groups of girls and young couples), people were waiting for tables downstairs in the bar, but we didn’t feel rushed as we sometimes can when a queue is building. This isn’t the kind of place to stuff your face and leave, there are too many good elements to enjoy. Talking of which, they are holding fortnightly acoustic nights in the bar, Get down between 5 and 7pm and make the most of the two for one cocktails! However it was the Table that started this SE1 trend first, talking of which, the style and quality of the food at Antico much reminded us of them now they have their amazing new Italian head chef

‘Cover me’ yelled spoon, ‘I’m going in’.

Mascarpone and berries with ‘Croccante’ – an Italian nut brittle

Desserts were a conundrum, too many tempting choices. I had the homemade Caramel Gelato £4, which turned out to be the softest, smoothest most incredible gelato ever, even better than in Italy. As I delved into it I wanted it to go on for ever. Ade didn’t seem too impressed with his Crema di Mascarpone, Summer Berries & Croccante £5, but it turned out that he had gelato envy, so it wouldn’t have mattered what he had, he just wanted mine.

The evening would not be complete without a Limoncello. I don’t know where they get it from, but it is so smooth and beautiful, and served in very cute miniature wine glasses. As we left we popped to look at the downstairs bar, which was more like a holding area for customers till tables upstairs became free. But we bet the atmosphere is completely different when the acoustic acts are performing. Making our way down Bermondsey Street towards The Shard and the London Bridge Quarter we added at least another three restaurants and bars to our ‘must visit’ list – including some of those mentioned earlier. There’s just not enough days in the week!

Limoncello, a lot tastier and easier to drink than an Orangeviolin! (Ade likes to end with a bad joke!)

Antico Restaurant & Lounge Bar,
214 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3TQ
Telephone: 020 7407 4682

Restaurant Opening Hours:
Tues-Fri 12-3pm & 6-10.30pm
Saturday Brunch 11-3pm
Saturday Dinner 6-10.30pm
Sunday Brunch 11-3pm

Lounge Bar Opening Hours:
Wednesday 17.00 ~ 23.00
Thursday 17.00 ~ 00.00
Friday & Saturday 17.00 ~ 01.30

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Nearest tube: London Bridge or Bermondsey