Stevie Parle, the food genius behind Rotorino, Craft, Dock Kitchen and Sardino opened up his newest venture, Palatino, in January this year. The restaurant knew a very successful start in spite of its rather unorthodox Clerkenwell location. I honestly was a bit nervous; Although Stevie’s reputation is a solid one, I have read both good and bad reviews on Palatino. If all else failed I could always grab myself a burger at the chicken diner on the corner.
Although the restaurant was brand new, I was definitely not impressed by the exterior nor the interior. The drab Clerkenwell office atmosphere that dragged passers by down outside, follows you inside where an almost spartan interior makes you feel rather unwelcome.
The sharing tables – every “hip” restaurant must have them, were full so we were seated at one of the boots.
The menu is small and looks low key but do not be fooled : This menu has been planned in detail to get the best of the Roman flavour to your plate. The Saltimbocca made my mouth water just by reading over the menu and the Rigatoni promised to be a winner.
I was pleasantly surprised by the portion sizes. I have always been a big advocate of not starving your customers and Palatino just received my seal of approval. Flavours were delicious. It was just like visiting your Italian grand mother in her small Roman apartment. I absolutely loved the complex but honest flavours of the veal rigatoni but unfortunately the pasta was not al dente.
Although I absolutely loved the food and its hones simplicity, I do not feel that the venue lives up to that same simpleness. Where you can describe the food as having a very warm and honest soul, the atmosphere seems to be catered at the many professionals in the area, feeling cold and barren.
I might not have rushed to the Chicken Diner on the corner, I would not likely come back to the Palatino for a romantic dinner. The dissonance between food and surroundings is just a bit too big.