‘I want light and healthy’, my dining partner tells me for our planned catch-up. With that in mind, I decided to completely disregard her wishes and the fact she’s just come back from 10 days of face-stuffing, dustbin-lid portions in New York, and booked us into Spuntino - the uber cool, Brooklyn-inspired space in Soho.
Set in the heart of Soho, Spuntino encapsulates everything that’s great about the area. The unassuming exterior with a single red neon sign, hides a buzzing, elbow-touching-ly small bolt hole, crammed with low-key couples. The entire focus of the room is the metal-topped bar, which takes up most of the exposed-brick, unpainted space, with diners on one side, and bar staff dancing, drinking and mixing up cocktails in its centre. It’s a Saturday night in this part of London, so of course the place is rammed with a mash of hip hop and old school blaring out, and frequent walk-ins being turned away.
If you’re looking for a green salad and glass of water, then you’re most probably wasting your time at this sexy nook, but if it’s dribble-down your face, gooey food you’re after, then you might not find better. There’s six sections to the menu, with burgers, sandwiches and desserts, along with a small choice of specials. We kicked things off with Spuntino’s take on green vegetables: battered and fried asparagus, that we dolloped into garlic mayonnaise. Continuing with the theme of deep fried and dirty, a plate of buttermilk fried chicken (£4.50) was devoured in seconds, every bite inspiring choruses of ‘hallelujah’ somewhere up high - so good, we convinced the chef to jot down the recipe on a scrap of paper.
Even the lowly potato is elevated to god-like food as it’s cut into thick chunks and fried three times for their take on chips (£3.60). Both the beauty and the brutishness of the bar is that you can see pretty much everyone’s order, giving a sense of communal guilt as you stuff another piece of bread-crumbed-topped mac n cheese in your mouth, but also inducing serious food envy. We watched as skillets filled with a puffed up Yorkshire pudding were served to our neighbours, only realising too late that we had not ordered the Dutch Baby. Not to worry; Brooklyn Toast (£6) is as sinful, with a dollop of nutella ice cream sandwiched between French toast. Wash it all down with a negroni or three, as the bar stick with strong and alcohol-filled tipples for their cocktail list, most probably to help save room for food.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Spuntino is fun and it’s naughty, in the same way turning up to work drunk after a 3am night out is. The menu is the sort of comfort food that has you seriously considering investing in a deep fat fryer, and best of all, it’s utterly affordable, with most dishes well under a tenner.