Sunday, November 11, 2007

Metrogusto - a new discovery

We had been to see Ratatouille at the cinema and, craving some hearty French or mediterranean fair, set off up Upper Street towards Sacre Coeur or Le Mercury. Just before reaching the former though, our attention was caught by a place that looked a bit like an art shop but actually seemed to be full of people eating food at candle-lit tables. And so, only about 5 years after it opened, we discovered Metrogusto.

Inside, the walls are decorated with dozens of large, colourful canvasses. My favourite was the giant squirrel with a manic look in his eye. The atmosphere is warm, romantic even. We ordered a bottle of prosecco (£24.50) and tucked into some delicious warm bread rolls with sun-dried tomatoes. The yeasty dough pleasantly reminded of Russian pasties, pirozhki .

(photo from another visit)

On Sundays and pre-theatre they have a good value two-course menu with two courses for £14.50. From this, the husband's grilled aubergine with pesto sauce & toasted walnut bread was luscious and earthy - comparable perhaps, we thought, to Rémy's ratatouille. My eyes (and belly) had been tempted by the a la carte, so I started with the "flat asparagus pancake with parmesan sauce" (£7.50). Perhaps foolishly I had actually envisaged a green pancake made from asparagus (I've made some lovely aubergine pancakes at home), sprinked with parmesan shavings. Instead, I got some normal asparagus tips wrapped in a pancake and smothered in a creamy balsamic sauce. It was nice, but not as nice as the grilled aubergine (plus I couldn't taste the parmesan - never a plus for a cheese fiend).

And, darn him, the husband won with the main course as well - baked chicken breast with gruyere & oregano sauce. Now here the cheese was very clearly present in all its melting gooey gorgeousness. But best of all was the chicken itself - beautifully juicy, and cooked not for a second longer than was needed to stop it from being pink.
That said, my veal ravioli with butter and sage sauce (£12.50) was also very good. Aong with chicken (so easy to overcook), I think ravioli make a good test for truly great cooking, as all to often they just taste of stuffed pasta and you can't quite tell what the stuffing actually is. Here though, I could both see and taste juicy shreds of gamey veal inside the large discounts of home-made tasting pasta.

The people at the table next to us were raving about the basil ice cream which came with their chocolate cake. But sadly we were too full to even contemplate trying this (I knew we shouldn't have had the popcorn). On the plus side though, that gives us a very good excuse to come back - and soon.

Metrogusto, 13 Theberton Street, N1 0QY; Tel. 020 7226 9400; Tube: Angel;

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