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Address: 27 High St. Wanstead, E11 2AA London

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      09.07.2012 10:32
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      An Italian on the outskirts of London

      I spotted an offer for this restaurant on deals website Groupon, even though it is a fairly local restaurant to me, I had not heard of it before, so was keen to try it. The deal we had was for two courses and a glass of prosecco for two people for £26 (i.e £13 per head). I phoned to book a few days ahead and found the process efficient and friendly, so had high expectations of a good meal with great service. We had booked for 8pm on a Saturday evening and first impressions were good - there were tables outside under an awning (still fairly optimistic considering the summer rain we had been experiencing) and lots of plants outside. Inside the restaurant was bright, modern and quite dramatic. The walls were a bright dark red, and the floor and furniture a pale wood. The tables were laid with ivory tablecloths over red ones, and red napkins. The red walls had a few large mirrors on them and some prints and photos, but were far from cluttered. We were seated straight away and given our complimentary glass of prosecco which would normally retails for £5.50. It was quite sweet and fruity but I rather liked it. We were given the menu and we checked if we could have the steak (£17.50) as part of the deal (we couldn't). After being told no, my friend took a bit longer to decide, and I felt they rushed her a bit. After placing our order I nipped to the lavatories. They are down a steep flight of stairs that are looking a bit tired, but the actual Ladies lavatories themselves were in keeping with the upstairs - bright and modern. They were out of paper towels to dry your hands on however. I reported this to one of the waitresses and it was dealt with by the time of my friend's visit. When I arrived back from the toilets, the starters were already on our table. My friend had ordered Carpaccio of beef with lemon, rocket and parmesan shavings (£9.50). She really enjoyed this and thought the flavours went well with the beef (which she wasn't a fan of on its own). I ordered Caprese Di Burrata (£9.90). It was served on a large plate with tomato slices and olives on a bed of iceberg lettuce. I was rather surprised by this as I normally expect the salad to be with rocket, and wouldn't have ordered it if I had known as I don't find iceberg particularly appetising. I mentioned it to my friend and she said she hadn't noticed anything about rocket on the menu, and we assumed I had been mistaken. The burrata cheese is like mozzarella, served as a large ball. I found it a bit too milky for my taste, but my friend liked the piece I gave her to try. I was disappointed with my starter and certainly didn't think it worth the high price tag. If I hadn't had it included in the deal, I would have gone for something cheaper such as the bruschetta (£4.95). For my main I was initially going to go for the tagliatelle with mushroom and asparagus, with truffle oil (£10.90) but changed my mind at the last moment to go for ravioli which I hardly ever have - handmade spinach and ricotta ravioli with basil pesto and cherry tomatoes (£12.50). It was a good sized portion, which I struggled to finish. The pesto sauce was rich and over-powered the ravioli contents, but wasn't so strong that it annihilated my taste buds like some pesto can. I would have liked a few more cherry tomato halves though; they were few and far between. My friend over much deliberating of the fish dishes (they offer sea bass or roast cod as well as a seafood linguine or risotto) went for the risotto with speck and radish (£12.50). She was rather surprised to see that it was pink! The speck (ham) was tasty and there were lots of red cabbage in it and it was served with an Amarone wine sauce. It was only when checking the menu online the next day (when writing this review) that I recalled that it was supposed to have radish in it. I texted her for clarification and she had no recollection of any radish in the dish. I think it is actually a mis-translation on the menu. The menu is in Italian with an English translation underneath. The Italian description describes it as radicchio which a quick google confirms as red cabbage, not radish as translated on the menu. Just as well my friend liked red cabbage, because I would have preferred radish. Although she enjoyed it, she said she didn't feel there was enough difference between the ingredients, and thought it would have made a better starter than a main. She is well-known amongst our circle of friends for being a slow eater and at one stage the staff tried to take her unfinished plate away from her when she put her fork down to pick up her wineglass which I thought was a bit much. We were asked if we wanted desserts (this would have been extra, as they were not part of the deal) and we had a look at the menu. It was only when I flicked to the front and looked at the starters again that I noticed that my caprese salad was supposed to have been served with rocket lettuce. I informed the waitress who got the manager. The manager then said that it was up to me to spot that it was incorrect at the time. I explained that I hadn't been at the table when the food arrived, and that as this was my first time here, I didn't know what to expect. I expected the kitchen staff and the waiting staff to spot the errors before they reached me, but this didn't seem to be acceptable to the manageress who emphasised that I should have mentioned it at the time. I then repeated that I wasn't there at the time and assumed I had been mistaken and we went around in circles several times before she begrudgingly said she "would mention it to them" before going off to serve someone else. I think that was the point when my friend and I decided we definitely wouldn't be back (to be honest we had thought it the food too pricey for what it was for a repeat visit, the reaction to my comment was the icing on the cake). We passed on desserts as nothing really took our fancy, although they seemed reasonably priced (between £4.50-6.50), and servings looked generous judging by the portion of chocolate fudge cake that went by me. Amongst the dessert offerings they had panna cotta, tiramisu, profiteroles and cheese selection. We opted for a Limóncello liqueur (£4.95) each instead. In addition to our food we also had a bottle of house rose wine (£14.50). We thought their other wines quite expensive (for example the sauvignon blanc was £28.95) and thought the house wine in an Italian should be quite good. Although described as 'light and fruity', we both thought it on the dry side, especially having had the prosecco beforehand. It took about half a glass before it was palatable, and we could resist the urge to wince. We also had a large bottle of mineral water for £3.20. As the food was included we paid just over £30 for drinks and service. We didn't pay the full recommended amount for service as we thought the manageress's attitude to my comment and the fact that they tried to rush my friend let them down. As mentioned above we are unlikely to return, although the deal was good value, I do not think I would be happy paying the full amount here as the quality of food, whilst acceptable, just didn't justify the price tag in my opinion. The restaurant opened last autumn (2010) and is named after the poem L'infinito by Geocomo Leopardi. The restaurant is at 27 High Street, Wanstead E11 2AA (tel: 0208 5305057) and is approximately half way between Wanstead and Snaresbrook tube stations - ten minutes walk each.

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