As winter turns to spring, Kris and I are aiming to lighten up our meal choices. With this in mind, newly opened Ardiciocca (meaning artichoke in Italian) was the perfect place to visit last weekend. It is hard to believe but the owner Roberto Costa owns four other restaurants dedicated to steak and Italian butchery (Macellaio – a must visit for meat lovers). The concept of Ardiciocca is based on nutritous and creative Mediterranean-inspired food, which is entirely gluten, dairy and sugar-free.
The new restaurant is located in Fulham, on a site formerly owned by Hanger SW6 (a steak restaurant – irony). The interiors are quite rustic minimalist. The chef in charge is Simona Ranieri, Italian Chef and cookbook author, herself a coeliac so naturally draws inspiration from her own personal experiences and challenges. She has created a menu that is mainly plant-based and veg-heavy.
Our waitress, Amanda, brought us some lovely Beetroot Hummus and homemade crackers to start with, setting the tone for the salubrious evening to follow.
Kris chose the Marinated and Flamed Mackerel, Kimchi Cucumber, Dill and Coconut Yoghurt. It was quite a delicate and pared back affair. Used to the strongly ‘fishy’ smell of the supermarket variety, the fish here had mild and clean flavours, with a touch of smoke.
My starter of the Green Tea Guinea Fowl, Asparagus, Raspberry was hit and miss. It had three main elements to the dish – guinea fowl, strawberry relish and chargrilled asparagus. On its own, the guinea fowl meat was quite soft and flavourful. The singular chargrilled asparagus was high on smoky flavours, much like the mackerel. But I feel it had swung too far to the other side of the pendulum. The dish was too minimal and I felt it needed something to tie it all together.
Kris had the Slow Cooked Lamb with Kimchi. The lamb was of very good quality with some distinct flavours that did not overpower the meat. The kimchi, well fermented and not too spicy, went well with the lamb.
I was intrigued by the Black Rice Flour Polenta, Cod, Thyme and Borage. The piece of cod was flawless and the borage had a robust, chewy texture (although it felt slightly gritty in parts), similar to kale. But it was the polenta black rice that stole the show for me. It was dense, creamy, deftly seasoned and glued the whole dish together. I mentioned this to the staff and they are now thinking of introducing it as a side of its own. So if you see a side of Black Rice Polenta on the menu, you have yours truly to thank!
In spite of having relatively lighthearted dishes, we were quite full so dessert was a shared affair. The Almond Tiramisu is probably the answer to all those people craving desserts but who hate the sugar-free, dairy-free (and possibly taste-free) versions. This dessert was perfect for those wanting to indulge in puddings minus the guilt. It had all the essence of a good tiramisu but felt light and airy, with a hint of coconut flavour coming through.
Throughout the meal, Amanda was sweet, delightful, engaging and really took on board our suggestions and feedback on the dishes.
The food here is fresh, wholesome and beautiful. It is complex cooking that stresses on using ingredients conscientiously, without compromising, messing about or adding frills. The ethos is very much about enhancing the natural flavours of components, not dousing or masking them under tonnes of butter and oil. This approach to food really forces you to look at the inherent taste of fresh produce and respect what’s on your plate.
With the exploding raw/vegetarian/vegan scene in London, the opening of Ardiciocca could not have been better timed. Fulham itself is going through a bit of foodie renaissance with the opening of new places like Market Hall and Dip In Brilliant, so all eyes will be on this area for the next few months.
I enjoyed my first healthy food experience – it was a real eye-opener. As a foodie, one must be open to all concepts and cuisines. However I am not a convert just yet. Whilst I left the place feeling not too over-indulged, I don’t think I am the right audience for it and wouldn’t necessarily go for this kind of cuisine all the time.
Location : 461 – 465 North End Road, Fulham, London SW6 1NZ
More information can be found here.