When Square Meal invited me along to their ‘blogger dinner’ at new Italian restaurant Four to Eight in Covent Garden, it was an offer i couldn’t refuse. Admittedly though i was a little sceptical, because when i hear of a new restaurant right in the heart of London’s Theatreland, my initial thought is ‘tourist trap’ (as negative as that may sound). In fact, i was pleasantly surprised by Four to Eight.
As you’d expect from a 100-cover venue, the atmosphere is busy, but in this case also calm and welcoming. Overall, it’s a smart and sophisticated venue, with nice high ceilings & modern decor.
The ground floor hosts the main restaurant, with large windows overlooking the bustling street outside, along with a bar for those who fancy popping in for some good wine and snacks.
While downstairs, the open kitchen is the main attraction and provides a nice space for a private party or large group booking. And this is where we were seated for our blogger dinner on a recent Tuesday evening.
After a warm welcome with a glass of prosecco from restaurant staff, we settled down with our hosts from Square Meal and eagerly awaited a 3 course dinner with matching wines.
And here’s the stand out one for me …..’Farinata’ – literally meaning ‘made of flour’. This was my first experience of what is a traditional Italian dish (originating from Genoa) in the form of a thin pancake made out of chickpea flour and i thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. It was light and delicate, with a moorish flavour. P.S. As Square Meal rightly pointed out, the farinata would have gone really nicely with a rich, meaty sauce for dipping.
With 4 starters, 4 mains and 4 desserts to select from, we were nicely spoiled for choice.
A new addition to the Four to Eight menu that day, this was a really lovely starter – elegantly presented and extremely tasty. This has got to be a keeper on the menu. My only criticism was that there wasn’t enough of it! I wanted, and could have easily devoured double the amount that was on my plate.
Although i enjoyed the pasta, happily polishing off the lot, i really missed the fact that it didn’t have a rich tomato based sauce – which is what i’m used to having with this type of ragu. P.S. the main was accompanied by a very nice glass of red which i thoroughly enjoyed: Quinta do Passadouro, Vihno Tinto, Duoro, Portugal, 2011.
For me, & also several of my fellow bloggers at the table, the absolute STAR of the evening was the risotto main dish (of which i had a sneaky taste from my neighbouring diner). Hands down, one of the best risotto dishes i’ve ever tasted – it was sensational! Hats off to the chef who conjured up this genius dish. I would definitely go back to Four to Eight to eat this risotto – i really hope the chef keeps it on the menu for the long-term, it’s certainly worthy of a permanent spot.
I couldn’t leave without trying the white truffle rice pudding – it had intrigued me from the moment i saw it on the menu. Being an avid truffle fan (albeit in a savoury sense), i really struggled to imagine how it would taste as part of a dessert. Having now tried it, i’d have to say i’m still on the fence – it was somewhat enjoyable, but also kind of strange.
My favourite dessert of the bunch…
I very much liked the presentation of the dishes, each served elegantly in lovely large bowls or on wooden boards. Portion sizes were generous on the whole (excluding the charred pear starter) and when you account for the quality of the food, you get good value for money at Four to Eight – especially the pre-theatre menu which is available from 5-7.30pm offering 2 courses for £16.50 or 3 courses for £20. So all in all, given that Covent Garden is rife with expensive tourist traps, prices are very reasonable here.
Having only been open for a couple of months, management are still tweaking bits & pieces, evident by the chef who came out to speak to our table, eager for our individual thoughts and criticisms. This was nice – it demonstrated a passion for the restaurant’s success and reputation, and a willingness to listen to constructive feedback in order to fine tune their menu.
Dips Bites: I enjoyed my contemporary Italian dinner at Four to Eight and welcome this newcomer to its prime spot in Theatreland. Furthermore, i applaud the owners for their vision and execution, in terms of high quality ingredients, careful presentation and value for money. Four to Eight is a versatile venue which could easily play host to a cosy evening meal for two, a working lunch meeting, pre-theatre dining or a catch up with a group of friends. P.S. Still gutted that i didn’t order the risotto for main, i’ll be back very soon to avenge this!http://fourtoeight.com 1-5 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JZ