I must confess that I’d not heard of Bruno Barbieri a few weeks ago, but the news that an Italian chef (heavily laden with Michelin stars) was opening in Marylebone piqued my interest. He has two 2-star restaurants in Italy and I believe this is his first venture outside of the motherland.
Cotidie is in that spacious, attractive unit at the top of the high street which hosted Café Luc, and Eat and Two Veg before that. The décor isn’t wildly different to that of Café Luc to be honest – it was handsome but unadventurous before and I think they’ve spent a lot of money to arrive at the same effect.
Food however is a tad more adventurous. We ordered á la carte although there is a £65 tasting menu which seemed passable value with the various soups and desserts making up six courses.
Before our starters, some large, emerald olives and an amuse bouche of pistachio-flecked various Italian meats – a terrine, a mortadella cube and some salami, with an artichoke and grain salad. Good stuff.
I had the tortellini in capon broth (£16) which is a great traditional dish from Bologna. The broth was richly meaty, and the pasta was perfectly al dente and stuffed with tender veal.
Salmon tartare was nicely executed also (£12).
The ‘bocconcini’ of beef fillet was extremely well flavoured and cooked with a good bearnaise, but the presentation was bizarre. Being plonked in a bowl was a bit unnecessary and felt quite demeaning for a £28 main. The portion wasn’t huge either, so I was glad of the roast potatoes, and the side of assorted (very good) beans which came for free.
|bowl of beef|
Sea bream with broccoli and crustacean juice (yum!) was more generous for the £24 and felt like a fuller dish:
Desserts were mixed. Bruno’s ‘Machiavellian’ ice cream pot featured creamy seeded vanilla with cherry compote. The rum baba however was a tad dry, and we actually liked the freebie petit fours most of all. Even if some of them resembled the Coco Pop and Corn Flakes tray bakes of my schooldays.
So there were definitely some snags, alongside the food which we did enjoy but somehow didn’t wow us. It’s modern and ambitious, but not quite there and the menu is confusing:
- Do S, P, M along the side refer to Starter, Pasta and Main?
- Why not A, P and S as in Italian which would be consistent with the use of 'Pesce' and 'Carne' as headings?
- Does ‘Verdure’ need to be a section when you also have the vegetarian (v) at the end of each item?
Service was patchy at best. Some points of the evening it was quite attentive, and others it was negligent. Our table was a very good one, so no excuses about location. Our bread was forgotten, drinks orders weren’t taken in time and the food took a little longer than desirable. The staff seemed very nice, but nervous and inexperienced. It certainly won't be winning any stars without a more natural professionalism.
|nice cutlery, crockery and stemware|
One final gripe which is small but telling. Having spent a hefty £90 a head on the meal, when we left nobody said good night. Now I’m not one for caricatures or stereotyping, but I do quite enjoy the especially exuberant farewell from an Italian restaurant.
Depressingly, I even dawdled a tiny bit to give them the benefit of the doubt; that they suddenly might spot us and belatedly see us off, but a backwards glance saw the multitudinous staff chatting with friends and with each other as we stepped out into the cold. Shame.
Drink – 8/10
Service - 5/10
Value – 6/10
Tap water tales – 5/10 (offered still or sparkling first, and 'tap' brought a narrow bottle for barely 2 glasses)
Staff Hotness – 7/10