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Review: Fine Italian Dining at L’Anima Restaurant

BY Boon Koh
Published 6 February 2012

L’Anima is the typical, modern City restaurant – floor to ceiling windows everywhere, sophisticated, really good service, and above all an amazing wine selection. In many ways, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better wining and dining place for your expense account (if you’re still lucky enough to have one).

I found myself at this posh Italian restaurant for the second time, although this time for leisure, and not business. The first visit to this restaurant just behind Liverpool Street station was for business – hence my chickening out by not whipping out my camera to snap pictures of the dishes.

On walking in, the right side of L’Anima is the bar area, and on the Friday night we were there, a live pianist was at the grand piano in the corner. Nice. The main restaurant, on the right, however, is separated by a glass wall – so we were a bit disappointed that we could barely hear the live piano music once we were seated. Note to self – sit at the bar for a while for a drink before being seated for dinner next time!

Once seated, service was prompt – but not too overbearing. The waiting staff were very knowledgeable too, answering our questions about Malloreddus and bottarga. In the end, we settled for the fritto misto to share, as I had it the last time I was at L’Anima and was delighted to still see it on the menu again. Fritto misto is seafood, lightly fried in a very thin batter coating, quite like Japanese tempura, but with a lighter batter. It is probably one of the best value dishes at L’Anima too, with a huge selection of fish, squid, prawns, and even a crab, and the portion is definitely more than enough for two to share:

With the starters done, and our stomachs more than half full, our mains came. Initially, they looked very disappointingly small – we had, after all, ordered pasta main dishes, and these looked like starter portions! I had the pumpkin gnocchi with n’duja and smoked ricotta, while my dining partner had the spaghetti chitarra with native lobster and herbs:

While small, both dishes were actually very rich, made with fresh pasta that was just slightly al dente. Definitely beats the socks off the crappy Napolina dried spaghetti and pasta you get at the supermarket! My n’duja sauce was surprisingly very spicy – maybe the spiciest Italian sauce I’ve ever had. The sauce with the small balls of gnocchi reminded me of Korean dduk bok gi, korean rice cakes in chilli sauce. Both the texture and the sauce were very similar!

My partner’s lobster spaghetti was equally good – so good in fact, that my partner longed for some bread to finish off the sauce at the end of the dish! There was also a massive lobster claw as well as half of the lobster with the spaghetti – two simple ingredients, but they do go so well together.

We were very surprised by how full we were after the main course, and had to change our minds about dessert, which was a shame. But we’ll be back at L’Anima again – but maybe after a bit of a while, as it ain’t cheap at L’Anima!

L’Anima Restaurant
Cuisine: Italian
Price Range: £40 (two courses), £50 (tasting menu)
Service Charge: 12.5%
Address: L’Anima, 1 Snowden Street, Broadgate West, London EC2A 2DQ
Reservations: 0207 422 7000 (Tel) or info@lanima.co.uk (email)
Website: www.lanima.co.uk