When it’s sweaty and sultry in Soho, what you really need is a dark and dingy corner in a little speakeasy to keep (and look) cool. If you can find somewhere with a bit of Italian dolce vita sprinkled in amongst the nouveau Brooklyn hipster vibe, then so much the better.
And it’s this perfect combo that embodies the feel of bar/restaurant Rustiko – a new kid on Old Compton Street’s block.
When Belle arrives, we notice a few hipster clichés like the exposed brickwork and bearded blokes sipping from jam jars. It’s quite dark with an open bar and a soundtrack of blues playing. But once we started on the cocktails – a Bellini and an Aperol spritz (£9), Belle began to get into the Rusiko vibe, feeling at once transported to aperitivo hour in Milan infused with a heavy side order of Soho 2016. Both drinks were beautifully presented with a gorgeous pansy floating in the Bellini and they were well mixed and balanced.
Ready to order, we discovered that you can opt for a straightforward three courser of have the piattini – a range of small plates. We went old school and ordered fried scamorza wrapped in prosciutto and meatballs in a spicy sauce (£5) from the starter menu to share. Both were good but the scamorza – an Italian cheese – was the perfect smokey-salty combo and we were left looking forward to the main course.
For the main courses, Belle opted for a delicious, lightly cooked prawn linguine with asparagus and sea bass served with tiny diced vegetables, beetroot chips and salsa verde (£16). Both dishes were nicely balanced and elegant.
We drank two glasses of the Casa Lunardi chardonnay from the Veneto region which was a great dry yet light accompaniment to the fishy mains (£20 for a bottle) and was recommended by the maitre d’, who was attentive and friendly with lots of helpful information about the menu.
For pudding, we took a trip to Sicily with a portion of cannoli and pistachio ice cream to share. Both were excellent – crispy cannoli shells with a good tangy ricotta centre while the pistachio ice cream (served in a kilner jar) packed a proper flavour punch.
Like a lot of Soho bars, Rustiko is one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it holes in the wall but with a fun atmosphere and friendly service. Whether you just choose a cocktail, nibbles or the full shebang, make sure you keep your eyes peeled and dive in.
- Rustiko is at 37 Old Compton Street, LONDON, W1D 5JY, Book by calling 0207 7346 361 or email firstname.lastname@example.org