From amuse-bouches to appetizers to palette cleansers; in a world where more really is more, restaurants are fighting to pack their menus with as many flavours, savours and courses possible. The bigger the menu, the better the joint, right? It’s a common misconception that a growing number of eateries are investing into, and it’s one that leaves many of us with an unnerving hole in our pockets and an uncomfortable extra few inches on the stomach.
So, whilst taster menus add “please turn over” prompts to their pages and dress-codes advise looser waistbands, where does one have to turn to find a spot that no longer requires more cutlery than we own in the kitchen drawer at home? They say good things come in threes, which explains why Covent Garden’s most underestimated pasta house prides itself on delivering the triple threat of fundamental basics; antipasti’s, pasta and dessert.
Forget concept restaurants that run their ships off gimmicks and serving dishes on questionable objects. William Elner’s and David Ramsays, Bancone, thrives on delivering no-frills food with an emphasis on executing quality and mastering the technique of traditional recipes.
After opening its doors in 2018, the restaurant has flourished in a sector where many have failed to succeed; simple concepts, stripped back settings and straightforward cuisines. And despite being located in one of London’s most central and popular tourist points, the menu is outrageously affordable and excellent value for money. Take the diners fresh fazzoletti, (that’s ‘silk handkerchiefs’ to you and me), which wouldn’t sound out of place in one of Lake Como’s exclusive dining lounges. But with the dish totalling up to a modest £9, the menu will have you making quadruple takes at the bill in hopes that you weren’t being desperately optimistic (which so often ends up being the case).
Despite an industrialised décor – plus the fact that the eatery is essentially constructed via one narrow corridor – Bancone has an unlikely appreciation for community and neighbourhood comfort. There’s no pressure to look your finest, or rush to book the “best seat in the house” although, if you do find yourself walking through Bancone’s doors, do try to snatch up a front-row seat at the open-kitchen countertop. Guests are invited to immerse themselves into an experience of watching the culinary artists prep, cook and serve up an impressive end result. Who doesn’t love the anticipation of watching your grub being cooked whilst you sit back with a glass of vino?
Bancone is the ideal excuse to stray away from the chains, yet central enough for those who aren’t too familiar with the area to scope out the local haunts. Take your mum for a pre-show dinner, your best friend for a catch-up feast, or your first date for a breaking-the-ice banquet. Just be sure to check that they’re a fan of pasta first.