Restaurant in London
Having just dined at the innocuously named Cibo in Holland Park, my thoughts turned to Virginia Wolf’s wise words: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Dining well does not, however, go nearly far enough to describe the feeling of absolute delight shared by myself and three companions in this intimate jewel of an Italian restaurant.
When I come across a treasure like Cibo, paradoxically I almost want to keep it a secret. It is rare to share a dining experience that evokes the same feelings in all around you. It adds such joy to the evening when all your dining pals are grinning with pleasure after every mouthful and making those ridiculous sounds that evoke complete delectation. All served up with élan and total professionalism by Cibo’s immaculate staff.
Let’s start with the wine list, however. There are far too few establishments that offer the wonderfully quaffable Greco di Tufo, so imagine my soaring heart at spotting it on the menu. I was taken aback when I first tried this rich, floral white wine that seems to linger after every mouthful. Try it - you are in for a treat.
Few experiences equal the anticipation felt on choosing a favourite dish, but to taste it and realise that it has no rival is a special moment indeed. The bresaola almost melted in my mouth, and the beautifully presented almost paper thin, raw tuna and swordfish served up with fennel, lemon and a little oil was a triumph. Simple ingredients, spankingly fresh and of superb quality are a winning combination every time. Why is food so fussy these days? Not a question that I needed to ask of the small and perfectly formed Cibo.
Take the pasta filled with goat's cheese, roasted baby tomatoes & basil.
Perfectly cooked, bursting with flavour, it was a sheer delight. As for the seafood and shellfish platter, simply cooked in tomatoes, wine and herbs produced a massive chorus of approval. Succulent, plump, juicy prawns were the star of this particular show, but for me the pasta dish took the gold medal.
Well, up till now anyway. We decided to try a selection of desserts and were unprepared for the visual feast placed before us that subsequently turned into a taste explosion. There was little to separate the pistachio ice cream which was the favourite by a whisker and the tiramisu, which can so often be a heavy, sweet gloopy mess. Not a bit of it. It was as light as a feather and was simply gorgeous.
To further enhance our dining experience. our superb fare was served on a table that had bags of elbow room for everyone. I must also mention the manageress Mary, who made it her business to make sure every whim was catered for and every request fulfilled with the courtesy and willingness to please that really impressed me.
There isn’t a bad thing I can say about Cibo. I was going to slate their website but I’ve been told that the revamp is imminent which is good as it doesn’t do their food justice. For all lovers of Italian food, I urge you to book a table and take your nearest and dearest. Buon appetito.
Open for Lunch 7 days a week from 12noon to 3pm. Dinner Monday to Saturday from 6:30pm to 11pm.
Maria Kuehn is a chef, writer and winner of The Observer Food Monthly Awards 2011 and has her own food and recipe website and blog
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Need to book||Advisable|
|Clientele||Locals & those in the know|
|Restaurant good for||Meeting up with friends|
|Cost per head||Medium|
|Dress Code||Smart Casual|
|Dining Options||Lunch, Dinner|
Very relaxed and informal atmosphere and not at all stuffy. Staff are extremely welcoming and friendly.
Summer Lunch menu £19.50.
Last updated on 06-03-2013