Friday night had gone a bit wrong, we were meant to be going to “Burger & Lobster” for my sister in laws birthday. Despite meeting up early at the nearby “Ye Grapes” when we went round to get a table the wait was an hour and a half which was not our idea of a fun Friday night. It’s the second time we’ve struck out there, maybe lunch is the easier option. So there we were relatively early on Friday evening trying to figure out what to do. My brother then suggested going off to “Ripe Tomato” on All Saints Road. He sold it to us as offering hearty rustic italian food. I was more geared to a night out in town but this sounded a decent option so off we went. All Saints Road itself has come a long way since the early 90’s when it very much no go after dark unless you were looking to buy drugs. Nowadays it is on the cusp of gentrification with a couple of smart eateries and trendy interiors places but also some of the original shops which gave it a bit of edge. “Ripe Tomato” probably belongs a bit in both camps. It’s the local Italian and the menu and look is rustic however some of the clientele is pure Notting Hill darling! A girl on the next table to us came in looking like resistance leader from Allo Allo and didn’t remove her beret or raincoat all meal.
We were celebrating a birthday so there was plenty of booze to go with our meal. We kicked off with a bottle of Prosecco which the others enjoyed but I found too sweet. We were very hungry so we shared a lovely cheese and tomato garlic bread with our starters. I had a starter portion of one of the blackboard specials which was a cheese and asparagus risotto, it was very tasty. My lovely wife has some calamari which were very well cooked, light batter and a soft texture. My brother had the lobster spaghetti which he wolfed down and the birthday girl had whitebait which I tried and found just OK. Onto mains and we went for a nice bottle of Amarone which was very reasonably priced. I had the seafood special which seemed to be a sort of boullabaise but with a pasata instead of broth. It was tasty but some of the shellfish was better than others, a few of the mussels could have done with more of a rinse as they were gritty and the prawns were overcooked. However as a whole the dish was nice and as it came with plenty of grilled bread it was fun to eat. It’s a dish I would like to try at home. The other mains lobster spaghetti, lamb steak and meatballs with spaghetti were all enjoyed. The portions were generous and the food hearty. The restaurant which had been empty when we came in soon filled up mostly with regulars. By the time the mains came out there was a nice hubbub in there.
The dessert selection was distinctly non Italian though I went for the Tiramisu which was only OK, I prefer mine with loads of booze. In my opinion it needs to be drenched in Massala like a Italian Rum Baba, the cream is only there for decoration. The others went chocolate cake which was very good, sticky toffee pudding which had a proper sauce made from treacle and a crumble with custard which my brother knocked back. This was all washed down with 2 lots of a pretty nice Vin Santo and a round of Limancello. The service was pretty good though it appeared the two male waiters were doing all the schlepping around whilst the two ladies (whom my brother thought were the owners) seemed more interested in staying behind the bar. It did mean we had to wait a while for the bill though we still left a cash tip as the two guys had looked after us well. The bill came to £75 a head with tip which seemed more than I expected but then we had consumed a fair amount of booze. On the whole I was happy with the meal though some of the dishes were better than others. It is definitely hearty and rustic food on offer here and by the end of the meal I felt stuffed and really needed to walk home to digest it properly. It’s a friendly lively little restaurant and it is thankfully free from the Notting Hill attitude of a lot of the places near here. It’s a good local Italian for the area but just a bit too far for us to use regularly. All in all a nice night out.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7