Veneta is the glamorous new baby from the Salt Yard group (from the team behind Dehesa, Ember Yard, Opera Tavern and Salt Yard), bringing a slice of Venice to London. The Salt Yard Group specialises in all things Italian and Spanish, with a clear focus on tasty sharing plates paired with superb wines.
Situated in the newly developed and revitalised St. James’s Market, Veneta exudes charm and elegance right from the start, as you look through the curved glass facade into the busy and buzzing interiors.
The restaurant is split into two levels and seats about 100 covers.
The interiors are Venetian-inspired, with ornate chandeliers and Italian marble tops. The look is contemporary with classical details. Marine tones in the likes of blue fan shaped tiles, green leather banquette seating and art evocative of the Grand Canal sit in contrast with the warmth of the dark wood tables and softness of the caramel leather upholstered seating, giving it a fresh and welcoming look.
We kicked off with some cocktails. Husband chose the Godfather (£12) – a lethal but delicious combination of Amaretto Biostilla, Laphroaig 10 Year, and barrel-aged orange bitters. His views on the drink were ‘perfectly balanced, easily drinkable”.
I opted for a less adventurous but equally delectable glass of red, the Ponte Pietra Merlot. (£5.25 for a 175ml glass; £20 for a bottle).
The menu is inspired by Italian classics … and what better way to start the Venetian gastronomic adventure than ordering some pasta dishes.
First to arrive was the Red Prawn Agnolotti, Shellfish Brodo and Oregano (£7.5). This was a delectable filled pasta with prawns, matched with a smooth and creamy broth – the kind of consistency like a thinner version of a lobster bisque. It was full of seafood flavours, warm, soothing and devoured in seconds.
We also opted for the Kid Goat Ragu with Fresh Pappardelle (£7.5). The pasta was cooked at just the perfect amount of al dente giving it a gorgeous bite, with the deep meat flavours of the goat coming through. Husband thought the dish could have done with a bit more meat but for me it was a perfectly balanced and a winning dish.
Next to arrive was the Charcoal-Grilled Monkfish with Anchovy Sauce and Salsify (£9.75). The salsify was julienned to replicate the look and texture of broad, flat pasta and had a slight crunch to it. The anchovy sauce was mild and did not overpower the dish. Based on taste alone, it was indeed a gorgeous plate of food. However, when it arrived, it was cold and the monkfish was overcooked. The staff duly acknowledged this and took it off our final bill, which was much appreciated.
The fish was soon to be followed by the meats. First up was the Spiced Lamb Rump with Swiss Chard, Artichoke, Lamb Fat Potatoes and Caprini Fresco (£10). The lamb was cooked beautifully rare, soft in contrast with the crispy wafer-thin potatoes that had a wonderful crunch to them. Everything was perfectly brought together with the sauce which we mopped every last bit of. A real revelation was combining artichokes with lamb – the sourness from the artichokes pairing well with the milky lamb, which I think is quite an ingenious way to combine these two very different ingredients on a single plate!
Last to arrive was the stunning Charcoal-Grilled Farmissons Pork Ribeye, with Occhiato Bean Puree, Grilled Courgettes and Fig Cremosa (£9). The rich, fatty and savoury pork belly balanced well with the mild bean puree, while the creamy fig sauce added the desirable sweetness. The thinly sliced courgettes were beautifully cooked, if somewhat sparse on a plate dominated by the hunk of the belly. Veneta was indeed saving their best dish for the last and I would definitely recommend ordering this dish. It is bold and full of flavour; a simple but well executed dish where there are not too many ingredients on a plate but each element proudly make their presence felt.
Not wishing to end our culinary journey, we (much to our own surprise) decided to go for a sixth dish – the cheese selection (£8.5 for 3). A waiter brought a cheese trolley around and explained the selection on display before serving.
Based on our choices, he created a bespoke selection of accompanying chutneys and crisp crackers that enhanced the flavours of the cheese even more. Clever!
With the cheese course finally over, our lovely Italian meal at Veneta came to a glorious finale. The Italian food Gods must have known somehow that we were sad to leave because as soon as we paid our bill, the heavens opened up, so we gleefully retired to the bar to carry on the afternoon over more glasses of wine!
Whether as a romantic place for a date, or enjoying an exceptional meal with friends, Veneta is a charming and elegant restaurant, much like the city it is inspired from.
More details can be found here.
N.B. All opinions and views expressed in this blog are my own. The photographs used have been taken by me and my partner (credited wherever applicable). I review anonymously and pay for my meals. The total cost of this meal was discounted as we attended during the restaurant’s soft launch period.