It seems as though I have been eating a hell of a lot of Italian meals lately, clearly now the summer season is firmly in swing, everyone is in the mood for a Mediterranean meal. A few weeks ago I was invited to check out Florentine which is in the Park Plaza hotel just down the street from Waterloo station. The restaurant has that soulessly cool look that hotel restaurants tend to have, sleek black furniture with accented colours and a few chrome accessories. We arrived at the very end of lunch, meaning we had the place to ourselves for most of our meal. My dining companion du jour was a very good friend visiting from Korea (the first of many I hope). Since it was a reunion of sorts and the meal was comped we decided to celebrate with a bottle of the house Proscecco (£36), I mean what else are Tuesday afternoons for? The bubbles were served in Marie Antoinette style coups glasses which we though a nice touch.
Many of the dishes on the Florentine menu are meant to be shared, a concept well adapted in Korea, so we ordered a couple of small dishes to kick off with while we contemplated what to get next. The Jerusalem Pita (£5) is new to the menu and was absolutely heavenly. Fluffy white pillowy toasted pitas are served with a creamy tahini and yogurt dip which was so smooth it could have been criminal. Alongside our dip we tried the other new summer menu item of Asparagus Salad (£8). The salad comprised of freshly blanched green beans, peas, and radicchio but was sadly missing the key ingredient of asparagus. We did find a few small pieces hidden under the leaves, but if you are going to call a dish an asparagus salad I do not want to go looking for it, especially at the ridiculously inflated price of eight quid.
After our starters we moved on to the Buffalo Ricotta Ravioli (£15), Aye caramba was this good. A beautiful buttery sauce was so rich and inviting I wanted to lick the plate clean. The handmade raviolis were topped with freshly shaved black truffles and filled with a creamy buffalo ricotta. To accompany this dish we also ordered their Buffalo Mozzarella (£9). The rainbow of heritage tomatoes was a feast for the eyes, however I couldn’t help but wish that the buffalo mozzarella was the uber creamy and trendy burrata instead, they missed a trick with this dish.
For our main dish we split the Veal Milanese (£21). While the price was certainly rather steep, it was an absolute delight. The wafer thin veal was melt in the mouth, the freshly fried crust super crispy. While the veal itself was lovely the side of chunky tomatoes seemed very out of place and seemed like a poor after thought when plating the dish. I would have loved a creamy coleslaw or salsa of some kind along with some dressed leaves or fries. For an expensive dish like this, the accompaniment really let it down.
We finished on a high quite literally with a boozy Espresso Martini (£10) and Pink Drink (£9) a concoction of tequila and something pink. For dessert we couldn’t resist the Affagato (£5) and neither should you. The coffee drenched ice cream topped with a gravel of pecans and meringue was absolutely incandescent, a flawless way to finish the meal. The Chocolate & Hazelnut Panacotta (£5) paled somewhat in comparison although we have to give them top marks for only charging a fiver for dessert.
Overall I feel like we had a good meal, though they could definitely work on a few of their dishes to improve them. It being a hotel restaurant the prices are somewhat inflated, however the waitstaff were attentive and gave us good service which helped make for an enjoyable afternoon.
Florentine is located at 6 Hercules Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7DU. The nearest tube station is Lambeth North. For more information you can call them on 020 3146 5800 or check out their website. They are open 11:30-10:30am on weekdays, and and 10am-10:30pm on weekends.