If you like the Venetian tapas restaurant Polpo, you’ll like its grungier brother Spuntino just as much.
Though similar in their location (both in trendy Soho), owner (Russell Norman) and lack of reservation policy (hence queues at the bar), they are in fact not really alike at all.
They serve tapas (not the Spanish kind), but of a very different nature.
Spuntino is very much like a Brooklyn diner with perhaps an Italian. It is the opposite of refined (and you can tell they’ve worked hard to achieve this). The space is dingy, walls cracked, food served on tin plates. It is dark (enough to smuggle in a dog in a bag), dim lamps dangling off the ceiling. The bar takes up most of the space. Too much of the space. Behind which are tattooed waiters/barmen with a lot of facial hair.
But it all works so well because people seem to be really enjoying themselves. Because the staff are incredibly friendly and efficient. And there’s a good vibe. But mostly because the food is genuinely good.
Most of the menu looks tempting, so we asked the waiter what the dishes to go for were. And so we ordered the aubergine crisps (more like aubergine tempura – excellent), and a celeriac, feta & pomegranate salad (fresh and original).
Then came the ‘slider’. We went for the lamb option with spiced cucumber. Sliders are really ‘in’ now in London, but Spuntino were apparently the first to introduce this American mini burger to the city. The two signature ‘plates’ are the Mac n’ Cheese and the Truffle egg on toast. Truffle lovers alert: the Truffle Toast is amazing! Mac n’ Cheese however a bit of a disappointment; heavy and lacking much flavour.
But the ribbon steak with beetroot and horseradish more than made up for it.
Go! But beware, it might be tricky to find since the outside is nondescript. And they don’t have a telephone number or an email address. Because they know people will come, no matter how well it is hidden.
61 Rupert Street