L’Anima is one of those seriously slick operations that everybody should try once.
Francesco Mazzei’s menu, a modern twist on classic Italian, is alone, enough to guarantee your return. Combined with the stylish interior, top-notch service and piano lounge with regular live singers it’s not hard to see why this place always seems busy.
I visited recently with the boy on a Saturday evening, it was freezing cold and we didn’t fancy heading out too far and after a Google search or two, I discovered L’Anima’s ‘Prezzo Fisso’ set menu, £35 for three courses, we were sold.
Located just behind Liverpool Street station in the heart of the square mile, L’Anima is a huge glass fronted building, and considering its city location, it had a serious buzz for a weekend.
We ordered a bottle of the house Champagne (£60) and mulled over our choices. A basket of fresh, Italian bread was delivered, a few types included, all delicious, but none more so than a gloriously salty rosemary scented focaccia.
The set menu we chose from had just three options per course, which made for easier decision-making.
Glen ordered the Seafood Spaghetti starter option whilst I opted for the Smoked Veal Carpaccio. The spaghetti was in a light tomato sauce with a strong and fiery chilli flavour and amongst the sea creatures included, were clams, mussels and the odd prawn. The portion was perfectly sized for a first course and it really packed a punch. It was the kind of starter that leaves you wanting more.
The veal carpaccio was equally good. When I have enjoyed beef or fish carpaccio previously, the slices of flesh have been cut far thinner, however this chunkier version was simply delicious, the meat melted in the mouth and was expertly seasoned. With slithers of chestnuts and parmesan topping the dish and a few dark leaves, this was a gorgeous plate of food in every sense of the word.
For the main event, I opted for the Monkfish Gauzetto – basically a piece of monkfish stewed in a tomato, olive and caper sauce which was divine. If I were being incredibly picky, I might have preferred the fish cooked slightly less, but it didn’t really impact on the flavour, it was a dish I would return for with sublime flavours. Quite a strong garlic hum powered the stew, and it is once again, a dish I will be trying to emulate in my own kitchen (perhaps with chicken thighs, or pork cheeks).
Glen chose the three meat cannelloni, which was a beautifully presented plate. Served on slate, was a slathering of rich, tomato sauce, topped with a creamy cheese sauce and completed with three tubes of fresh pasta filled with a delicious combination of meats. We never did get to the bottom of which meats were included, and as this was a fairly small portion for Glen, I was only allowed a small bite – however I would hazard a guess at pork, beef and rabbit (no horsemeat here). This was yet another fantastic, faultless dish.
We also had a couple of sides to make up the meal a little, some roasted potatoes with peppers and char grilled vegetables – both good.
For my dessert I had a vanilla panna cotta, which was soaked in grappa and sprinkled with pomegranate jewels – very pretty to look at, and a lovely refreshing pudding.
The absolute dish of the day though, without fail, had to be Glen’s Monte Bianco – this was quite frankly a triumph. Stunning to look at, and even better to taste, the meringue of pureed chestnuts was in a little structure, held together by fresh cream, and positioned in some rich, dark and utterly irresistible chocolate sauce. Chocolate nibs were scattered around the plate, and a scoop of chestnut ice cream was positioned with two little caramel balls of deliciousness. This was just marvellous, in every way.
L’Anima’s Menu Prezzo Fisso to me, represents fine-dining at a much more affordable price. The evening we had set us back around the £160 mark, but we enjoyed three amazing courses each, a bottle of Champagne and a live soul singer to boot, in stylish surroundings, what more could a girl want on a Saturday night?