An arty day out visiting the Jasper Johns exhibition – Something Resembling Truth – at the Royal Academy of Arts (we’d highly recommend it) had left us footsore, weary and looking for a cosy dinner spot where we could recover before heading off to yet more culture at the Barbican Centre in the evening (more of that later). We used the Open Table app and found that Al Duca had an early dinner slot for two, and were offering 20% off the food bill to boot. Decision made!
Unusually we were early to dinner, with a reservation for 6.30. Even so the restaurant was half full and buzzing with Saturday night life. We were settled in to a table for two and quickly made ourselves comfortable. The lighting here could do with a little tweak as it was a little on the bright side for a romantic dinner, but perhaps that was because we were quite early. Luckily, this was only our nine month anniversary, so we didn’t mind looking at each other too much!
The menu is simple and classically Italian, which is a firm favourite for us both. I went for the ricotta cheese burrata served with toasted bread and black truffle. I’ve only recently discovered burrata – it’s an oozily soft cheese with a light tangy taste, most closely resembling mozzarella but softer in texture. A. chose the beef carpaccio with parmesan shavings, that looked as beautiful as it tasted.
With our energy restored, and still discussing the highs and lows of Jasper Johns, we moved on to the main course and both chose the pan fried calf’s liver with sautéed onions, sage and white wine served with spinach. I love calf’s liver, and although this wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted it was a close runner up. Deliciously simple and I could feel my iron levels rising. (Whilst I’m a big fan of spinach, why does it make your teeth feel furry?)
Finally, we moved on to a shared dessert. Wow! We plumped for a classic tiramisu, and then almost sent it back because I thought it was a cappuccino that we hadn’t ordered. You can see why! This was gloriously indulgent, richly creamy and with just the right coffee tang. I would be back in a heartbeat for this pudding alone. We both thought it was the best tiramisu we’d ever eaten.
We trotted off to see a film at the Barbican Centre with full tummies and a spring in our step (we saw Smithereens, which I think was an interesting peek into the punk era for most of the young audience but more of a trip down memory lane for us).
This is a lovely spot for dinner; the welcome is friendly and the service attentive. The food is classic and delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and the memories of that tiramisu will be with us for a long time. Given the St James location, this was never going to be cheap but with the Open Table discount our bill came to around £70 with a bottle of wine.
Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★★★☆ Sparkling clean and nicely presented
Al Duca, 4/5 Duke of York Street, London SW1Y 6LA Saturday, 30th October 2017