Thursday, 24 February 2011

Trullo - Highbury's Finest

I made the reservation for Trullo about 6 weeks in advance. I’ve never been that organised in my life before, but sometimes you just have to plan ahead. I’ve already made a reservation for the River Café at the end of March, but that’s for my birthday and that’s different.
I’d been wanting to eat here for quite a while, but in some cases I feel it is best to let a restaurant run for a while, before charging in like a bull in a china shop, and criticising it for basic start up errors, which hopefully should iron themselves out over time. So over 8 months since its opening, I thought it was time to give it a whirl.
I had seen the interior of the restaurant from the outside many a time from the 19 bus, but once you are inside, it is surprisingly small but yet still spacious. It has a simple but kind of industrial look about it, with scaffolding planks masquerading as shelves, even a few books on them as well.

The menu is short and sweet and comes in several parts. Beginning with the antipasti, primi, then the mains from the grill or the oven, followed by the deserts and then the finale of cheeses.
I’ve never been keen on antipasti in restaurants, as the price outweighs the quantity of the food that you get. So I always give them a miss.
Tonight’s menu offered us a nice range of offerings, but there were more dishes we were not keen on than we were. Which is a shame, but wrong night I guess. There were a few offal dishes to keep us entertained, so all was well in the Highbury world of Italian restaurants.

So for starters we ordered the borlotti beans with grilled ox heart and the papperdelle with a beef shin ragu. Both were presented nicely, well I thought so. They were very rustic and simple in look, but who needs to be complicated. Both had Parmesan wisps grated over the top. Taste wise, my pasta was silky smooth and had a great feel to it, I just wish I could say the same about the ragu. It was lifeless and boring. The meat had been cooked to the desired tenderness, but it lacked any real flavour at all. Had they forgotten to season it, had they tasted it? Obviously not.

The same disappointment was met after tasting the borlotti beans with the ox heart. The beans were again lacking any real taste. Some of them were chalky and slightly undercooked. The ox heart was perfectly cooked, but again it did not taste of ox heart. It could have won the tasteless ox heart of the year award. A big shame. This did not leave us with high hopes for the mains.
The mains came and looked lovely. 10/10 for presentation for these guys. I had the Venetian calves liver with polenta and a rocket salad. For me, this made up for any shortcomings on the pasta dish. The liver was cooked spot on. I could not fault that at all. Perfect, perfect perfect. Excellent. The polenta had been griddled so was kind of crunchy on the outside, whilst still being creamy on the inside. It did need a smidgen of more seasoning, but the liver was still sending my senses into heaven that I didn’t mind. The rocket salad was as sharp as it should be, anymore and it would have been too much and been totally ruined.

The problem came with the 2nd main. This was from the grill. The pork chop, potatoes and braised celery. On first appearance it looked great. Taste wise, the chop had bags of flavour and was still juicy. The problem was the potatoes. They were still fridge cold. Unbelievable. Had they forgotten to take them out in time, and just remembered whilst they were plating up and hoping we wouldn’t notice.

We called over the waitress and told her the tatties were cold. She had a most surprised look on her face. She took the dish away without a word, and then we waited. By the time the dish came back we’d more or less polished off my liver. But there was no word of apology from anyone. In fact, more or less after that we were ignored. I’m not sure why, I can only imagine it was because the staff hadn’t been trained how to apologise. It’s like some of the agents I use overseas, when all goes well, all is fine. When things fuck up, they really fuck up, as they have no idea how to handle it.
But for a restaurant that was charging £16.50 for a dish, you’d expect a) the tatties to be hot, b) you’d expect an apology. Period.
I have to say the dish that we got back, and it was a brand new dish was pretty damn good. The chop was as juicy and tender as the last one, the celery had a lovely crunch to them. Even the now warm tatties were nice.
The lack of an apology has left a bad taste with us. We were not expecting anything off the bill, and we never got it, but we expected a simple sorry. Nada.

Trullo does do very good food. Some highs (liver), some lows (ragu) and some schoolboy errors (cold potato’s). But it come across to me that the pricing and the bad service that it is really punching well above its weight here. But when you look around this part of North London, there really isn’t anything that can come close to the quality that it does turn out. But that doesn’t excuse bad service.
I’d expect that in Nando’s (although I’ve only ever had good service there), but not in a restaurant where you pay £40 + per person.

Good food, bad service. I won’t be going back unfortunately. 

Trullo on Urbanspoon

No comments: