Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Trullo: A Highbury Gem

Trullo is a wonderful little gem, one of those truly great locals: its just a pity it isn't mine.

As is often the way with the food-bloggerati is that a year after a place opens there is little interest (unless its really special like Dinner). So this Monday I was heading to Trullo and looked for some reviews. I couldnt find a single blog post dated after 2010 and even the latest timeout post was back in October 2011. So, I feel it is my duty to give this little diamond a little loving.

From the outside it could be mistaken for one of the infinite coffee houses in north London; but stepping inside you are greeted by a simplistic design style, the tiled kitchen spilling out across the floor. This is one of those places that knows what it wants to be: good solid Italian fare without the pomp and circumstance. Its pedigree is clear with Tim Siadatan of Fifteen fame manning the kitchen. This is seasonal food, cooked simply. It is what great Italian cooking outside of Italy should be. And at these prices, that's a real bargain on a rainy October Monday.

The food overall was excellent with only a slight hiccup in the middle. The three of us ordered antipasti, primi, carne and dessert. Typically for me I ended up ordering three meat courses and the protein was fantastic.The real pleasure though are the basics. Pasta was butter-yellow and cooked right to the edge of too soft, the sauces deeply flavoursome.

Roasted quail with chicken liver crostini. Beetroot, goat's curd and pine nuts.

The quail was fantastic, good charring from the charcoal grill and accurately cooked with that slight pinkness to the breast meat that makes anyone who really enjoys fowl start salivating. The meat was deeply flavoursome and the little leg bones were nibbled, chewed and sucked dry into the realms of indecency. The liver was pleasingly mild in flavour but worked very well in between mouthfuls of quail.                            
Roast quail with chicken liver crostini
I didnt get to taste the beetroot (too busy making sex faces with a face full of quail bones) but was told it was nicely earthy with the tangy curd working well alongside. The oil dressing was top quality.
Beetroot with goat's curd and pine nuts.
The men ordered the Italian sausage ragu and the lady the spaghetti bottarga.

The sausage was punchy, with fennel and herbs poking out straight from the first nashing of the molars. The ragu sauce was light and slightly creamy, softened with mascapone, and the white wine was still delicately noticeable at the back. The parpadelle was only ever so slightly al dente, personally how I prefer my flat pasta.
Parpadelle with Italian sausage ragu
Having never had bottarga before (how?) I was very interested to try it. The crunchy little orange flecks dusted the plate while the cabbage gave a pleasing al dente boost of earthiness. I have to say that this was the star dish of the night and will have me looking around markets for as much cod roe as I can snaffle. £8.50 - bargain.
Thats what happens when you use night mode on your camera.

I ordered the pork chop which was delicious and reminded me of the Black Foot Chop at Dinner, which is quite a claim. I stress the word 'reminded' as the texture and juiciness of Heston's was stratospheric, however at half the price this is clearly excellent value. The charred crust gave the crispy fat that addictive smokey flavour and the chop, although the tiniest bit dry, was juicy and very comforting when paired with the potatoes and the braising liquor. The anchovy gave the liquor a lovely depth and while I am unfamiliar in using anchovy with pork, it complimented the flavour well.
Pork chop: Look at that char!
The other male had the poussin which was served simply. The flavour was clean and apparently very tasty as it disappeared rather quickly with much bone nibbling at the end.
Roast poussin with lentils and girolles.
The Great Skate Disaster was a bit of a downer. The lady declared that it (skate with baked canellini beans, swiss chard and peppers) was so overcooked as to be inedible. Ever the optimist, it was said the other elements of the plate were delicious. Now, Im new to blogging and I usually dont make a fuss in these situations as I am English. However when writing a review, it is vital to not give unilateral criticism, that is just bad form. So. once notified, the kitchen quickly and without fuss offered both a replacement skate and a plaice dish with their genuine apologies. However as the lady was already rather full she declined the offer and the dish was crossed of the bill. This was clearly a rare blip and in no way indicative of a slopping kitchen.

They had the cheese plate. Was deemed of fairly average quality (they are cheese snobs) and one of the pieces of taleggio was the rind end.

The choclate and quince tart had a very soft texture, matched by a lightness in the mouth. More like a mousse than a tart, I expected it to be heavier but I actually preferred it was it was. The chocolate hit was mild but satisfying, while the quince rounded each mouthful with a pleasant fresh jelly-zing.
Chocolate and quince tart

The Slosh: one 70cl of white and one of red. Very reasonably priced around 25 per bottle and sommelier was good allowing three tastings before a decision and took a corked bottle of the sangiovese/cabernet blend back without feeling the need to offend us with it first. Wine was of comparable quality to those of a substantially higher mark-up at competing Italian venues in London. For those that care the red was a Capezzana barco reale di carmiagano and was rather tasty. The other sangiovese was a bit thin.

Overall, great value for money and a lovely little weekday supper. The only shame being there isn't one closer to mi castello.

Where: 300 St Paul's Road, London N1 (020 7226 2733)

Food: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Slosh: 8/10 (on pricing)
Value: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. I've shamefully not been here as it was too hard to get a table and then I forgot. Things move on too quickly unless they're in your neighbourhood I guess. See also Tinello in Pimlico.Makes me want to try again though - great post.