Tom dives into Spiga’s new menu

With a fair degree of enthusiasm, three of us rolled up at Spiga (via a quick one in The Gallery), in order to check out their recently revised menu – the first overhaul since it opened just over a year ago.

I’ve actually been meaning to grab a pizza at Sarracino next door for a while, but it’s nice that there’s variation in Italian food in town, and indeed within Broadhurst Gardens. I love Spiga’s food; by my own admission I have a healthy appetite, and so it was to my taste that the latest menu seemed to emphasize big, hearty dishes. Is it getting too clichéd to say “rustic” too?

Starters arrived, and I enjoyed the freshness and well-judged cooking of my fritto misto; clearly quality seafood, and something I’d eat as a main (which was an available option). Next to me, the caprino al forno was going down well; oven-baked goat’s cheese in sesame seed crust, grilled veggies, plus a sweet and sour balsamic reduction. We all agreed the sesame seed crust was an interesting, and successful idea.

Cacciucco alla livornese was perhaps the standout at this stage; a “traditional Tuscan soup with a variety of fish, fresh tomato, wine, chilli and parsley, served with toasted garlic bread” – enticing. I’m glancing at the menu now (hence able to name the dishes verbatim) and note this is not offered as a main – perhaps would be a nice option? It’s the type of thing I actually bother to cook at home, though toast and Marmite perhaps better reflects my natural skills set in the kitchen; I’m better with a corkscrew than an an oven.

Now well into the swing of things, helped along by an excellent Chianti, the three of us shared two pastas. The tortelloni of chicken, veal and herbs in a porcini mushroom sauce was as rich and flavoursome as one would expect, accompanied by a non-meat option: ricotta, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and nutmeg, tossed in butter and sage – delicious. (Also pleased to note that the gorgonzola and wild mushroom gnocchi is still on the menu, and that the peas poached in stock remain as a welcome and enjoyable freebie – they seem to go well with everything).

We were perhaps a little full once mains arrived, but my pan-fried salmon with prawns and capers in a Prosecco wine sauce, with sautéed spinach was, quite simply, the sort of food I want to eat – again and again. Bold flavours, yet the salmon was not overpowered.

Fillet of beef, wild mushrooms and porcini sauce, with gnocchi tossed in butter and sage was also a hit – as was the roast corn-fed chicken breast filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce provençale and rice.

Spiga remains very good value; somehow they combine quality of ingredients, a high degree of both skill and flair in the kitchen (and clearly a lot of passion too) – with generous portions that will challenge the hungriest of diners (me, basically).

It’s not hard to see why a certain friend of mine practically lives there, and if a spare room to let becomes available, perhaps I’ll be following suit!