One of the things I like about being obsessed with food (other than eating it, of course) is that it takes you to areas in your hometown that you haven’t explored before. Enter into the frame Cin Cin, a charming authentic Italian bistro in the heart of Fitzrovia, nestled in a quiet space between Oxford Street and Euston. But does it give you a dose of la dolce vita? We tried the brand new menu to find out.
The atmosphere on this balmy summer evening was humming, and after strolling past pretty alfresco restaurants, swish cocktail bars and a very cool coffee shop (lovingly restored from its previous life as a public toilet), we arrived at this stylish neighbourhood hangout. The navy and white rattan-esque chairs provided a fun pop of colour, plus the beautifully laid out table featured a bloom of freshly cut flowers. It was going well so far.
We kicked things off with the boozy duo of Cin Cin negroni (£10) and the reverse Manhattan (£11). The eponymous drink, decorated with a slice of fragrant dried orange, was honestly the nicest version I have ever tried: fruity but not sugary and perfectly balanced. After speaking to the wonderful waiting team, we heard that the owner David helped to create this tipple, adding in Regal Rogue as a nod to his Australian Italian heritage. As for the other cocktail? We’re glad there were no open flames near us, as the beverage really packed a punch with vermouth, rye whiskey and sour cherry gin. Bitter and delicious.
Next came the grub, served in a tapas-style way, freshly cooked in the kitchen and personally delivered by the chefs. The Jersey rock oysters (£3.90 each) were presented in their shell on a bed of seaweed with tiny cubes of tomato and onion, drizzled in basil oil. A salty hit and a true taste of the sea. The tear-and-share rosemary house focaccia (£3.80), was still warm and ideally matched to the rich Belcari olive oil. Alongside the aged balsamic vinegar, I could have dunked my way through this part many more times.
I made the error of thinking the crispy polenta (£5.50) was veggie, but after pushing the coppa ham aside for my date to enjoy, I swooned after the sweet ‘n’ sour notes coming from the aubergine-laced caponata and citrusy, flavour-stacked corn cake. And the dishes kept on coming. The torched mackerel (£10) was elegantly presented with salsa verde and the beef shin arancino (£10) was a cheesy, comforting gargantuan that was demolished in just two bites. Amazing.
My favourite plate of the night? Got to be the burrata (£9.50). Partnered with segments of charred peach, a total revelation for me, this meal was silky smooth and remarkably delicate.
As we sipped a refreshing pinot grigio (£7.50) and Moretti beer (£6), the buttermilk panna cotta (£8) dessert arrived, a fitting finale. You’d be a fool not to go for this one, people, because there was real depth coming from the shortbread crumble, British strawberries right through to the wobbly centrepiece. And the Pimms jelly? What’s not to love?
The DesignMyNight Digest
Being close to shopping districts like Regent Street, this spot could have easily fallen into the tourist trap of grab-and-dash pizza. But this couldn’t be further from the truth at Cin Cin. They’ve retained the same ethos as when David started out in a vintage 1972 Fiat 850 van, plus there is a real community feel around here. The south-facing corner gets rays upon rays of afternoon sunshine, perfect for golden hour, and combined with droolworthy cuisine and world-class service, we can see why this quirky gem has become the talk of the town.
💰 The damage: £89.10 for two, excluding service
📍 The location: 21 Foley St, W1W 6DS: a cute little side street in Fitzrovia
👌 Perfect for: Laidback Saturday afternoons gazing and grazing
⭐ Need to know: Fancy aperitivi by the seaside? There’s a sister restaurant in Brighton and Hove
In need of more lip-smacking Italian fare? Check out our guide to the best restaurants in London here. For more hot openings, special offers and going-out inspiration, sign-up to our weekly London email.