It’s oh, so quiet | La Giaconda restaurant, 9 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LS *LA GIACONDA HAS NOW CLOSED*
*SADLY, LA GIACONDA HAS NOW CLOSED*
La Giaconda Restaurant, Café and Bar sounded great on paper – a long-standing family-run restaurant, the proprieters also own Flat White and Milk Bar. Previously named Giaconda Dining Room, it was a much-loved restaurant in Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street) where famous Musicians from Bowie, Boland and The Kinks hung out. Now revamped we were invited to take a look, what we found was not what we expected.
On yet another disgustingly wet night we entered Giaconda via the cafe (the restaurant is hidden out the back). We arrived feeling slightly stressed having swerved umbrellas and tourists on the way from Charing Cross, the quiet sanctuary of Giaconda seemed like heaven. That was until we got settled and dry and realised that it was in fact very, very quiet. The little room had just nine tables, and you could hear each and every conversation, there was even a rug stretched across the floor tiles to dull the sound of footsteps. This is not somewhere for someone who has Misaphonia.
Our cocktails were really good, my Cosmopolitan £6.50 eased me into a warm state and Ade’s pernod-laced Gloom Raiser £6.50 a cocktail devised way back in 1915 kept him powered up for the entire meal. Our drinks came in the beautiful vintage etched crystal glasses, we own some at home but are too scared to use, I don’t have a very good record with special glassware. The wine list is for people that know about wine, not for people like us. We like a little description and a bit more info, I had no idea what to order. In the end I just asked the waitress to recommend a glass of red to accompany my main. The specials menu that was reeled off went in one ear and out the other. They’d be much better off just writing them down, the only thing I remembered was that they were out of crab.
I chose a starter of Baked mushrooms with garlic and herbs £6.75 which arrived on a sizzling skillet. Garlic mushrooms is one of those simple dishes that never gets tiresome, especially on a wet and dreary night. Ade’s Beetroot salad with goat curd and mâché lettuce £6.50 was light, crisp and bursting with freshness although the goat curd was a little bland. Rib of beef with braised oxtail, shallots, salad and chips £19.50 had me written all over it, although I felt the salad was unnecessary and didn’t quite go. Great meat on both counts, especially the rib – juicy and cooked perfectly pink. Ade’s Venison with red cabbage, beetroot and macaroni gratin £17.50 tasted a lot better than it looked. Again the meat was cooked to perfection and whist the red cabbage added some texture to the dish Ade felt that there was too much beetroot. Maybe it could have been replaced with something to provide a little more crunch and add a little colour. The gratin let it down a tad, the sauce too thin and lacking in flavour – but then again I think he was secretly hoping it would be more like mac and cheese.
Dessert time won me over with Banana and Pineapple sorbet £4.50. I can’t remember the last time these words escaped my mouth, if ever. Separate flavours, seperate scoops – not a weird tropical mix of the two. Ade’s Iced nougat with steamed prunes and raspberry sauce £6.50 was an unusual offering and made a welcome change, so much so I kept stealing spoonfuls. We decided La Giaconda is ideal for a couple of friends who need a really good catch up without having to worry about background noise (as long as they don’t mind everyone else listening in). With no distractions or ambience all concentration falls on the food, and the service. Both were fine, although the male waiter seemed a little grumpy/bored. There seems to be a little something missing, which is a shame as it has the potential to be a lovely spot.
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Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road