The wrong end of Rupert Street amongst the sex shops, there is something very cool going on. It’s so cool that you can’t make reservations. It’s so cool that it doesn’t even have a phone number or website. It’s so cool I walked past it twice before I read the tiny ‘Spuntino’ lettering on the edgy, metal warehouse frontage of the building.
I do mean for the word ‘cool’ to be spat out a little in this context. It should be pronounced with a slight edge of resentment, because I’ve been trying to be cool for the past 24 years. Then this restaurant pops up, and within 2 weeks it’s far cooler than I will ever be.
Not only is it cool, but it reminds me how un-cool I am as I squirm about on the couple’s love-seat trying to assess whether both mine and my mother’s bottom will fit on this intimate chair, designed for two skinny lovers who don’t like eating without their elbows touching.
To make it even cringier, all this is done under the watchful gaze of a painfully cool waiter - all skinny jeans and designer tatts.
I scuttle into a pantry-sized alcove which offers a little more privacy than the seating at the bar, and look at the menu. Dreamy. While my mother and I discuss what plates we are going to order, the couples next to us start chirping in: ‘You’ve got to try the truffle egg toast – it’s divine.’
I’m not saying that I don’t like other diners giving food recommendations. In fact, I do like it. It’s very friendly. It’s just that…well, it’s not very cool. ‘Cool’ diners would be far too engrossed in conversations about synths or irony to feed a fellow diner snippets of recommendations.
The truth is that everyone in Supntino has a bit of the food-geek about them. It’s been a mecca for food bloggers…and I’m quite new to this game – but I’m sure that we’re not a very ‘cool’ breed…are we?
Anyway, onto the food. It was as good as everyone said it would be. The truffle egg toast was rich but delicate (which is quite a tricky combination if you think about it). The base of the zucchini, chilli and mint pizzetta was so light, and the cooked mint gave it memorable and intense flavours. The free popcorn not only got top marks because of the fact that it was free…but also because I couldn’t have dreamt how much a paprika topping would enhance something so simple.
As well as being exceedingly good, the dishes were all reasonably priced…very reasonably priced if you consider that the restaurant is flanked by theatres which often provides an excuse to double prices regardless of food costs.
As AA Gill pointed out in his review of Brawn the Sunday before last, for food to be really cool, it needs to be so understated, it’s almost inconsequential.
There’s far too much cooing for Spuntino to be that cool. But I’m glad it’s not. It’s a great homage to food geekery, and I’ll be returning very soon – when you fall asleep still thinking about your lunch, you know that you’ve been somewhere very … cool.