Notionally, I was going to look for this pick-me-up at the Tailend, but the intense dreariness of the weather meant that we decided to curtail our rain walking and head for Broughton Street. After finding Khushi’s (the one that disavows all knowledge of its namesake from every pore of its being) closed today, we headed across the street to Asti, a little Italian that opened last year.
Our entertaining waiter showed us to a nice table in the back room, which was bright, airy and neatly set out.
I was joined today by Angus, who previously quested to Union of Genius, many months ago. Angus is quite the photographer, and I did have a momentary pang about the routinely mediocre photos I take of all the lovely food I eat. It soon passed.
We were presented with two menus: a lunchtime set menu, offering two courses plus coffee for £9.75; and a full a la carte. We both spotted dishes from the set menu that suited us nicely, so after a little dancing around our options settled upon mussels and penne for Angus, and soup and gnocchi for me.
Dishes arrived smartly, as we exchanged stories of exactly how frightfully busy we both are, at the moment. My soup, described as chunky vegetable, was as described. Angus’ mussels looked good, too.
My soup was one of those that I really think of as two dishes in one. It was chunky vegetables served in a light broth, much along the lines of the soup in Bon Papillon. For preference, I would prefer things to have been amended in one of two ways: either, serve something a little more complex in the broth (along the lines of the excellent cappelleti in broth served at Al Dente); or give the soup a couple of pulses with a blender, so it has a slightly more wholesome texture, while retaining the chunky bits. As it stood, it was good, but not anything beyond that.
Main courses were accurately matching on the colour palette. Angus thought the balance between sausage and pasta was a little too heavily skewed in favour of the pasta, but described the sausage as “good and strong”.
My gnocchi was a baked version, of which the first few mouthfuls, as I suspected when I first saw it, like eating lava. Once the temperature had calmed, the dish was very nice. It wasn’t the best plate of gnocchi in history, but it was richly comforting and that was a very good fit with today’s requirements.
Good espresso rounded out what had been a very enjoyable lunch.
So overall, I was pretty pleased with Asti. The back room is a very smart setting, with the lovely bay window ensuring it’s bathed in natural light. Dishes were tasty and comforting, and represented a very reasonable lunchtime deal.
Blythe scores Asti:
3.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20
Today’s questers were: Angus, Blythe
We ate: chunky vegetable soup, mussels with cream, bacon and pine nuts, penne alla salsiccia, gnocchi all sorrentina
We drank: sparkly water, espresso
We wore: action workwear, traditional pinstripes
Total bill: c.£22