Diciannove in the City | Restaurant Review

April 04, 2016


I'll be honest: I vary rarely venture to Blackfriars, and I don't know many people who do. However it seems like times are changing, and after an expensive new road layout and cycle lane the area is now attracting flocks of city workers post 5:30pm causing a flurry of new bar, restaurant and pub openings. 

I've visited twice in the last three weeks, lured in to sample Diciannove's new menu. Formerly known as Refettorio, the restaurant has a reputation as a staple for the suited and booted business types, although when I visited we were greeted with live jazz, a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff - far from the stuffy establishment I expected. 

  

Situated at the front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located next to Blackfriars Bridge, the building was once upon a time the home to King Henry VII, later used as a prison and more recently a bank. Steeped in history, the venue also plays host to Voltaire Bar, which I recently wrote about here.

With sleek dark wood, bright lighting and a mixture of intimate booths and small tables for two, the interior of Diciannove is warm and welcoming.


Having been seated, we started our meal with a wonderful selection of bread, which is all baked in-house, and a bowl of green Castelvetrano olives. On both of my visits I enjoyed the scallops, pea puree, petit pois and crispy prosciutto starter which I'd thoroughly recommend - the saltiness of the ham complimented the sweet peas and scallops beautifully. 

The restaurant has a great selection of wines, so don't be afraid to ask your waiter for recommendations as they're very knowledgable and suggested some fabulous pairings during both my visits. 


In the name of research I tried a small bowl of the fresh lobster, Pigato thyme and tomato spaghetti. Again, all the pasta is made fresh in the restaurant kitchen rather than bought in making the quality of the spaghetti outstanding. The tomato sauce was flavoursome, but I couldn't help wanting a little more lobster for the price of the dish (£14.40 small, £18.50 large). 

On my first visit I ordered the chicken breast, cepes mushrooms, soft polenta and cream sauce for my main course. The chicken breast itself was of high quality: large, juicy and cooked faultlessly. The mushroom sauce was every creamy-sauce-lover's dream, and the polenta complimented the dish well. My only advice when ordering this dish would be to add a side of vegetables to help cut through the rich flavours. 

 

During my second visit I ordered the beef fillet, potatoes tortino, sautéed leeks and veal sauce. Boy, what a dish! The beef was cooked stunningly, the sauce had the most amazing glaze and the star of the show (surprisingly) was the leeks which exploded with flavour. A very memorable dish indeed. 

My guest, who in this instance was my Mother, ordered the halibut fillet, cauliflower purée, roasted potato cubes and thyme. My mum is a big fish fan, so when she praised the dish I was impressed - she stated the cauliflower purée gave the dish an overall harmony, joining the subtle flavours together, whilst the fish was cooked superbly.  

Although the menu is a little on the expensive side, this newly re-launched restaurant is defiantly one to watch and is worth travelling to Blackfriars for. My recommendations? Book a booth, make sure you try their home-made bread, order a side of polenta and stick to the meat and fish dishes that echo 'simplicity at its best'.