Earlier this year, in January, to be precise, Ms B & I had been invited to check out the then still relatively new Beso in Covent Garden (review here) and we rated it 5 out of 5. The food back then had been labelled Moorish, basically a mix of Moroccan, Spanish, and other Mediterranean cuisines. There were distinctly Moorish design elements including an ornamental nine-seater table with traditional tiles.
Recently I was on the way to a meeting in Covent Garden and passed by the restaurant. To my great surprise they had re-invented themselves as Italian Mediterranean restaurant and changed their interior decoration accordingly. When checking their menu I could see that these were not the only changes: the prices had gone up significantly too (their pre-theatre three-course ‘deal’ sets you back £24.95 and included no combination of even only vague interest to me).
After some deliberation I decided to go for their calamari with chilli and parsley aioli (£9), Sicilian swordfish tartare with mango, yuzu, olive dust, and sesame rice crackers (£9.50), and the squid ink linguine with Sicilian prawns, courgettes, cherry tomatoes (£9.50).
As requested, the food arrived all in one go (and after only a short wait). In terms of looks, only the tartare held up to some standard, nicely garnished with some leaves. The calamari were my favourite dish of the evening. Not quite as al dente and scantily battered as in the Italian motherland, but pretty expertly prepared and flavoursome. The squid ink linguine were a huge disappointment: a tiny portion with not a single full prawn, just a few bits of prawn, and a thoroughly lacklustre presentation.
I’ve always been a great fan of swordfish in all its different forms and my expectations were high. The first few bites were quite pleasant and the citric flavours of the mango and yuzu combined well with the fish. However, I soon struck a few chewier and slightly less impressive tasting bits, that probably should have better been left for the stock.
The bill came in at £39.20, including £7 for my 500ml Moretti and £4.20 service charge. Too much for a mediocre, light, late lunch. Having met one of the two owners during the first visit, I am nonetheless still a great believer in the restaurant’s team’s potential. Energy and ambition like that don’t just vanish in a mere few months, but this crew will need to up their game. 2.75 out of 5. On Tripadvisor they sank 150 places from their high and are now roughly at 300 out of 20,000 London restaurants, still an excellent rating, perhaps I caught them on a bad day.
For some travel and adventure inspiration, feel welcome to eyeball our posts about our rides with The London Helicopter, The Thames Rocket, Adventure Balloons, and the Queenstown Shotover Jet, as well as our articles about England’s Medieval Festival, the Jurassic Coast, and Canterbury.