As I find myself catapulting at a speed I’m not all that comfortable with towards the ripe age of 30, I have noticed my appreciation of architecture has become all the more prevalent. I look up a lot more, and not just because I now get a crick in my neck from constantly looking at my phone, but because in London, the details on buildings above eye level are gorgeous. One of my favourite spots in The City for architecture is The Barbican, an ugly-beautiful centre built in the '80s which hosts classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. It also houses a library, a conservatory and three restaurants, one of which is modern Italian restaurant, Osteria, which I got to go and check out just the other week…
It wasn’t intentional, but I arrived for my reservation at golden hour which, if you can coordinate yourself for, you absolutely should because it is beautiful. The furthest wall of the restaurant is one long window which looks out to the centre of The Barbican, and as the sun sets, the beautiful pink light bounces off the orange brick walls and glistens across the water; the perfect backdrop for an aperitif or supper.
Amore bibo, Latin for ‘I drink with love’ is the neon sign that greets you as you enter the bar. The space may be modern but touches such as the sign and bulky armchairs in the bar keep it warm and inviting. Head past the casual drinkers and into the long room that acts as the restaurant, a stretched space that can easily be divided up for private parties and events.
Food & Drink
Balmy evenings call for refreshing aperitifs, so my pal and I started our evening with a couple of Aperol spritzes, which we enjoyed with some gorgeously juicy, marble-sized olives. As an Italian restaurant in London, Osteria’s menus change with the seasons and have emphasis on produce form the region. To begin, I enjoyed the pickled mackerel with sliced Sicilian plums (£7.50), a beautifully presented dish with an elegant mix of sweet and lip-puckering sourness, while my friend went with Heritage tomatoes, sheep’s ricotta, olive puree, toasted hazelnut, basil (£7.50). The dish arrived with a large, fresh and juicy tomato drizzled with oil, with a salty kick from the olives and a crunch from the hazelnuts.
For my main dish, it seemed silly to visit an Italian restaurant without sampling their pasta, so I ordered the seafood linguini with fennel and garlic butter (£18.25). The pasta was light and creamy, and the seafood beautifully sweet, with large juicy mussels, perfectly cooked squid and cockles in their shells. I greedily wrapped the pasta around my fork and devoured every last morsel. My friend’s generously sized portion of pan-fried cod with borlotti bean puree, spring greens, onions and samphire (£17.00) was cooked to perfection, and fell apart effortlessly at the touch of the fork.
For dessert, we asked the opinion of our extremely friendly and helpful waitress, who recommended the buttermilk panna cotta, blueberry compote, oat crumble and the Pear tart, pistachio ice cream (both £6.50) which we ordered straight away. My pear tart had a gentle sweetness and a light, crumbly pastry rim. The panna cotta’s accompanying blueberry compote was sweet and gooey, and scattered across it was the oat crumble which provided a lovely, crunch contrast to the smooth, creamy body of the panna cotta.
If you’re heading to The Barbican to catch a show, view an exhibition or just drink in the extraordinary architecture, Osteria is a beautiful and delicious restaurant for both drinks and food before and after. Grab a table by the window, sip on an aperitif and enjoy the peaceful '80s surroundings in the midst of the busy modern city.