Daphne’s is the place if you are looking for wholesome classic Italian dishes with a touch of Venetian elegance. It dishes out burrata with tomato and basil, prosciutto ham with melon, spaghetti vongole and veal Milanese in its pure traditional forms with fresh ingredients. The service is attentive, sharp and professional.
I have driven and walked past this London’s institution on many occasions, making a mental note that I should visit each time. It is a proven hand in Richard Caring’s collection of high-end dining establishment.
What is the food like?
The menu is unimaginative, but you can’t be imaginative if you want to deliver true Italian classics as it has been made for hundreds of years. Head Chef Michael Brown is focused on presenting its patrons with Italian dishes they craved for, using the freshest ingredients and masterful cooking.
How is the wine selection?
There is a deep selection of sparkling, whites, roses and reds from Italy and France for all occasions. Bottles of Chateau Margaux available upon command at £1,300 each. A wide selection is also available by the glass (125ml) and carafe (375ml). There are over 50 Italian whites and red and about half the amount in French to choose from. There is also a handful of wine from other regions.
What is the place like?
Martin Brudnizki has peppered a clean Italian elegance to this regular size restaurant, which has 3 seating areas. There is an intimate pink marble-topped bar with a hefty selection of cocktails where you can also have a casual meal. The airy main dining hall opens out to Draycott Avenue and is decked out with Murano chandeliers and modern paintings. The conservatory to the back is bright with oversized mirrored windows and a retractable glass roof. Great for a summer lunch.
Who are the patrons?
Normally filled by well-heeled locals on a regular day out. When I was there it was mostly well groomed thirty-something year old couples, some just dating and others a little further down the path. There was also an older couple celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.
How was the service?
Top-notched, as you will expect from such a high-end dining establishment. The service is attentive, sharp and professional. Wine glass are kept sufficiently topped up. Crumbs are cleaned from the table after each serving.
Is it dog friendly?
Yes, small to medium sized dogs are welcomed at the conservatory dining area. Please read link for more details (daphnes-restaurant.co.uk).
It is difficult to say that it is good value when starters starts at £10 and the mains averages above £25. I would say that you get what you pay for. Good food coupled with good service in an elegant restaurant.
The below is what me and my dining companions indulged in on this review:
A bottle of 2016 Barbaresco Produttori del Barbaresco
This easy drinking medium bodied red from northwest Italy’s Piedmont region was a charm. Sweet scent of cherry and raspberry on the nose blends with the elegant spicy notes on the taste buds made it a great lunch time companion. Produttori del Barbaresco (produttoridelbarbaresco.com) is made from Nebbiolo grapes selected from 50 associated farmers in the Barbaresco appellation. Overshadowed by its fancier cousin, the Barolo in the past, it is now starting to get the attention it deserves. £118++
Gameroni with Chilli, Garlic & Parsley
One of my favourite Mediterranean dish. The white wine reduced tomato sauce was perfectly balanced with a dash of nutty garlic, spicy chillies and bitter parsley. The juicy natural flavours of the prawns are beautifully elevated by it. In this occasion, the prawns were slightly overdone. £16++
Burrata with Datterini & Focaccia
You cannot get any more Italian than having the colours of the flag on your plate. This classic trinity of the sharp sweetness of the tomatoes, with the soft creaminess of the burrata cheese and the fresh pepperiness of the basil leaves was a match made in heaven. Great choice to use the “little dates” tomatoes. As they are in season, they are so fresh and bursting with sweetness. £13.75++
Scallops with Chilli & Garlic
This was the star of the show on my visit. The generously sized scallops were soft and juicy, bursting with flavours. A reflection of the freshness of the produce, sound kitchen organisation and the mastery of the chef. The added kick from the garlic and chilli wrapped the dish up neatly. £16++
Spaghetti alle Vongole
Another summer Italian classic, allegedly originated from Naples. The elegant white wine infused clams are gently flavoured with garlic and healthy helping of olive oil. The spaghetti was delicately finished al dente. We asked for it to be made without chilli and the chef obliged. £14.50++
Buffalo Mozzarella Ravioli with Cherry Tomato & Basil
A wholesome hearty meal. Creamy mozzarella was generously packed into soft flower edge pasta parcels. The ravioli was served with a healthy helping of melted butter balanced with cherry tomatoes and basil. £18.75++
Roast Fillet of Cod with Fregola, Crab & Zucchine
A generous portion of fresh cod. Beautifully cooked with soft chunky flakes. £24.50++
Dover Sole alla Griglia
It is always impressive to witness the deboning of a fish. The mastery involved is enviable. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of the naturally grilled Dover sole on this occasion. The sole was uncharacteristically flat in flavour. It was a touched overdone. £39++
++ after the prices indicate that this restaurant adds a discretionary 12.5% service charge to your bill