On Monday, after a saunter round Bonhams, I was invited to a restaurant in Belgravia I’ve passed countless times, but never visited before.
Santini was established in 1984 by Gino Santin and immediately became a hit with stars like Michael Caine, Princess Diana, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Tom Cruise and Baroness Thatcher. The restaurant, I’m reliably told, went on to become Frank Sinatra’s favourite when in London.
Santini, Ebury Street, Belgravia
Subsequently, in more recent years, Santini was relaunched by Santin’s daughter, Laura Santtini. She gave the premises a stylish makeover whilst managing to retain the very values that had made the restaurant so popular and the resulting look is elegant and refined
Even on a rainy Monday night Santini was buzzing and busy. Over conversation about Rupert Murdoch’s phone hacking scandal, we not only enjoyed convivial surroundings but also a truly superb meal in a setting that reminded me of several of the smartest restaurants I’ve visited in San Francisco.
From the Venetian influenced menu I opted for the Filetto Santini, an excellent piece of Scottish beef with Barolo butter. The meat was succulent and full of flavour and accompanied by roast potatoes and green beans this was a perfect main course. Options such as the “Cheeky Lobster” dish of a whole poached lobster with Marie Rose sauce, a green salad and French fries will definitely ensure I’m tempted back.
For those seeking out pasta, there is a good selection including carbonara, ricotta and spinach ravioli and spaghetti alle vongole, whilst the 18oz grilled Dover sole was very much enjoyed by one of our party. Here is a menu that is extensive yet not overwhelming and one that is accompanied by a reasonably priced wine list with bottles priced from £27 upwards.
The exterior is a rare treat in a location so central. Hedging and olive trees conceal a terrace that accommodates up to forty on a summer’s day. This is a place where the power brokers and stars can sit, talk and digest in the sun.
Santini also offers a pre and post theatre menu that features such classics as insalata tricolore, calamari, risotto and chicken in a mustard and white wine sauce served with roast potatoes. For £25 for three courses, portions are substantial and the option of concluding with such dishes as lemon and mango sorbet or tiramisu make this a most popular choice.
The Santtini family have been doing it their way for many years and long may they continue.
Santini, 29 Ebury Street, London, SW1W 0NZ. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7730 4094. Website: http://www.santini-restaurant.com