Between talks of amber lists and vaccine passports, the thought of travelling abroad any time soon feels like more hassle than it’s worth. But as someone who worships at the altar of the beach, I’ve really been craving an escape from the city. While flights might be far off for me just yet, I did manage to convince my East London pal to venture west (a TFL feat in itself) for an afternoon of Italian tapas at Como Garden… the closest we’ll be getting to the lago any time soon.
Joining neighbours like Dishoom, Dirty Bones and sister site Zuaya which is only next door, this West London spot is in good company. The place doesn’t seem like much from outside, but once you enter, it’s a modern mix of neutral tones, leafy walls and plush furniture. Nabbing a circular booth underneath the towering tree, we were in prime position for a lunch date. Easing into our catch up with a couple of cocktails, we kicked things off with some Como signatures. For me, the Lago Amaranto (£13) balanced gin and limoncello with blackberries, sugar and egg white for a frothy finish, while his Como Fizz (£13) was a bright green mix of gin, basil, cucumber, lemon and sugar.
Ever have those meals where you’re chatting so much that the waiter keeps nudging you to look at the menu? Lucky for us, we didn’t even have to think about ordering because the team here were keen to bring us a spread of their favourites. First on the list was the caponata (£7) made of juicy, plump slow-fried aubergine and tossed with tomatoes, capers and roasted pine nuts. Chef’s kiss.
Also from the antipasti section, fried zucchini (£4.75) and a giant gorgonzola and pear ravioli (£6.50) which was flawlessly cooked and packed a hit of oddly satisfying sweetness. Sicilian orange salad (£9.50) was just as tasty and complemented by negronis (£13.50 each). With a crisp skin, our grilled turbot (£24.50) was cooked well but lacked the flavour of its predecessors. The pasta list is vast, with everything from beef ragu and carbonara to rigatoni alla norma. Keeping it simple, the trofie al pesto (£13.50) was a nice take on the classic, with short, thin pasta smothered in the green stuff.
Dessert was no regular affair either, with the Aperol spritz sorbet (£6) providing to be the boozy slushie-esque hit that I didn’t know I needed in my life. I’d heard big things of the Como Ferrero Roché (£6) too, and it definitely went beyond the hype. A giant ball of chocolate and hazelnuts, it was filled with ice cream that was almost ganache-like in texture and so luscious that – dare I say – it just might be better than the original.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Italian cuisine is always a good idea, and while you might be able to get it almost everywhere these days, Como Garden is serving up the food, the drinks and the desserts in a stunning setting. Some might come just for the photo-worthy setting, but I can guarantee you'll want to stay for that heavenly Ferrero creation alone.
💰 The damage: £130 between two, plus service charge.
📍 The location: by Kensington Gardens at 37-45 Kensington High Street, London W8 5ED.
👌 Perfect for: Instagrammable meals with mates, plush date nights.
⭐ Need to know: grab a booth for the ultimate luxe dining experience.
Discover more around West London with our list of Kensington's finest restaurants.