The Red Pepper – Maida Vale, London

This is one of my favourite restaurants. I love the location (Formosa Street) and the buzzy atmosphere, and on a summer’s evening like last night, with the windows and doors wide open and busy tables outside, one could even feel like they were dining in Italy.
To start, my table of five shared a selection of antipasti. It was all of an excellent standard, but I think the burrata and cerignola olives (99% sure that’s what they were) were especially great. For anyone out there who, like me, likes olives but can sometimes find them a little intimidating/intense, these were perfect. Their flavour was subtle yet tasty enough to the point that they were moreish. The burrata was creamy and flavoursome and complemented the other antipasti well (courgette, rocket, bresaola).
I should also add that I had a glass of the house white wine that was delightful.
For main, I enjoyed a spinaci pizza (tomato, mozarella, spinach, egg and parmesan). The only thing I will say about the pizza is that the egg wasn’t runny. “It’s up to you to ask for a runny egg if you want one!” I hear you protesting; I was under the impression it went without saying but perhaps I was being naive. I’ve clearly learnt an important life lesson here.
‘Egg-gate’ aside the pizza was great; the perfect proportion of tomato, cheese and guest ingredients, and cooked just right. It even had a little dough horn growing out of it that contributed to the evening’s amusement.
My fellow diners had only praise for their mains, in particular the tuna tartare.
I regret to say that we didn’t have time for dessert. I have no doubt it would have been wonderful though.
The service is top rate – we were greeted in a friendly manner by a lady who seemed to be the owner, read the specials by a jovial waiter and served in good time.
In summary, I would thoroughly recommend The Red Pepper. I had a great evening; this was of course due partly to the superb company but also due to the excellent food, great service and ambience.

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