A short trip from the Natural History Museum is a cafe-come-restaurant known simply as L’Eto. There are a few strewn across London, but this particular incarnation is their first attempt to draw the evening crowds. Whether they come streaming out of the museum giddy from their close encounters with the late-night samples, or waltzing down the road from the Royal Albert Hall, L’Eto is attempting to draw them in with an eclectic mix of fine dining, and massive cakes. Oh, and cocktails. There are always cocktails.
Happily, these particular cocktails were resplendent in taste, texture and pure alcoholic content. My partner’s cocktail, an apple and cinnamon punch, came with a prohibition style mason jar. Ignoring this unnecessary flourish and my personal vendetta against the invasion of 1920s Americana, the cocktail was rich with the sweet yet earthy taste of apple, barely disguising the copious amounts of rum and Southern Comfort liqueur that seemed to invade the glass like a pirate getting pissed in an orchard.
The food was equally decadent and even more delicious. I started with the tomato and mozzarella stuffed gnocchi surrounded by little pockets of pine nuts and pesto. Those juicy little potato balls managed to avoid the cardinal sin of any gnocchi chewing. They melted in the mouth and the only resistance I felt was the creamy, tangy tag team of mozzarella and tomato holding back those tiny morsels from their inevitable doom. While my dish was a lovely subtle reminder of Italy, my partner’s was a full blown whack in the face with flavour. Turrets of goat’s cheese nut praline towered imperiously over a township full of caramelised beets, butternut squash and lamb’s lettuce; and although the menu disagreed with me I could swear some sly genius had sequestered a few slices of caramelised apple beneath the canopy. When all the ingredients combined, the overall effect was like seeing the Power Rangers‘ Megazord appear for the first time. So ludicrous and yet so majestic.
For my main I went for luxury, mainly to accompany the inexplicable diamond patterned leather wall sitting behind my partner’s head (I didn’t say they got everything right). Black ink crab tortelloni in a creamy lobster bisque. Creamy being the operative word. Perhaps a little too indulgent. The rich crab inside the insidious black parcels oozed out as my fork tore into it and as it ran slowly into the lobster bisque I swear I saw a puff of purple smoke lift slowly to the heavens. Though my plate consisted of only four small tortelloni I was full after two.
My partner’s red snapper fillet came out with a perfectly brown crisp skin and a strip of dark green gremolata running from end to end. Though it made it look a bit like it had been run over by a lawnmower, the taste of the lemon, parsley and overpowering garlic really complimented the flaky fish. Beside the fish sat a druids’ circle of pommes maxim, or as I like to call them, ‘demi crisps’, accepted by neither crisp nor potato, feared by all. It was overall a far better thought out dish than mine with ingredients that worked harmoniously together rather than fighting for supremacy.
I will give the desserts only the briefest mention, as reviews of L’Eto’s cakes and pastries already litter the Internet. They were delicious and generously portioned, but despite the enormous display in the window, this branch of L’Eto is attempting something more and should be commended for it. The only advice I would offer it is to pick a side. When you first enter it is hard to decipher its true cause. Yes, there are people sitting with wine and hot food, but equally there are people munching on a giant slab of carrot cake while taking selfies against the white leather wall. Considering the quality of their dinner menu, I know which side I would choose.
243 Brompton Road,