Portland House, 4 Portland Street, London, W1W 8QJ
After a few too many extra minutes trying to find Dego, we realised it is just off Great Portland Street not on Great Portland Street. Look for Costa and it's next door! The upstairs is rather unassuming but sleek with a long red and black table in the middle and bar stools all around...this is the wine bar part of Dego! Pull up a pew and choose from the vast selection of wines or boards of cold cuts and cheese - a great place to come and escape the hustle and bustle of nearby Oxford Circus.
We headed downstairs to the restaurant. As you descend, you are immediately sucked into a black and red, intimate dining space. It's like no other restaurant I have seen, as there seem to be only about ten tables, most of which are large and square, surrounded by black and red leather booths. Although the restaurant was full, it didn't seem overly busy, simply due to the fact that their aren't many covers in what is quite a large space. There is also a bar down there where you can snuggle in and just sample the boozy delicacies.
Having been seated, it is clear to see that service is of the utmost importance to Dego. One waiter takes our coats, one brings the menu and one enquires about drinks. Each booth seems to get its own little team, as if in a Michelin restaurant, but without any pretense. Another point that becomes apparent is the great attention to detail: The cutlery and glasses look and feel fantastic, and sunken into the middle of your table is a wine bucket. Their experience is shown in wine selection too as your waiter will only recommend / let you order wine once you have picked your food, so it all complements each other. The food menu, while not expansive, demonstrates a chic selection of beautifully crafted italian food. So with our ice bucket now sporting a wonderful bottle of Cava (£21) our starters were brought to the table. We had beef lasagne, quails eggs and salmon carpaccio, and Barley Soup - all were the perfect size for a starter and every plate was licked clean! The food is brought to your table by one waiter and then placed onto your table by our personal table waiter...Michele Roux would be proud!
Mains we had grilled monkfish with mozarella and grilled salmon with potato velouté. Served in wonderful glass plate/bowls and a non-slip mat to ensure no accidents - once again the Dego team had everything covered! The food was delightfully cooked and tasty: One of the best mains I have had in London for a very long time. Oh and of course our sunken bucket was now filled with a crisp, light white.
However much we wanted to, we had no more room for desert and settled for a round of Italian expressos.
With starters ranging from £8-£14 and mains from £12-£20 Dego is not cheap but not ridiculously expensive - more happily affordable than splash the cash. Cocktails are £7.50 and you can grab a bottle of wine for about £24.
My only negative would be the lack of "buzz"; with so few tables in quite a large space, there is quite a snoozy ambience. However, with michelin stared service, an intimate dining space, wonderful food and an expansive wine and cocktail list, this is a truly fantastic London restaurant and bar with no pretense. Sink into one of the booths and enjoy everything this restaurant has to offer.