I’m not a wine lover, often given a budget, 90% would be spent on food. Perhaps it’s a pattern stemmed from years of insufficient wine knowledge, which I’d love to change. The evening at Zafferano was the perfect time to learn as I was accompanied by a wine expert. He eagerly reached for the bible thick wine menu, read each page with a curious yet puzzling expression, the kind I usual have when a food menu is too delicious to decide. Admittedly, even a novice like myself would give credit to this extensive wine list that included nearly every region of Italy as well as other European cities.
Zafferano has been a Knightsbridge local for years, the restaurant group includes many of London’s best restaurants, L’oranger, Alloro and Eleven Park Walk are just a few examples. The crowd is a mix of trendy Harrods shoppers and wealthy locals, who jam this spacious restaurant every night (remember to book). It serves authentic Italian dishes as well as those with a modern European flair.
Our wine expert chatted away with the sommelier, who was charming and highly knowledgeable. The conversation concluded on three bottles of reds for four people (I was very tipsy by the end of the evening). Each of the wines had a distinctive personality, outlined below.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
I’ve not heard of Montepulciano before this wine, it’s a medieval hill town in Siena, Tuscany. The wine had great depth as well as rich fruity tones. It resembled a beautiful woman who’s also wonderfully smart. I fell in love with this wine instantly and spent the next week hunting for more, eventually I found something similar at WholeFoods.
Barolo, Ravera, Vietti
Barolo is produced in the Piedmont region of Italy with Nebbiolo grapes, often considered as one of the best Italian wines. It contrasted the earlier feminine Montepulciano with subtle and broad notes, less sweet and fruity. This time, it resembled a gentleman.
Solaria Ionica, Passito, Puglia 1959
Contrasting the golden coloured Sauternes, this ruby red dessert wine was somewhat more impressive. The classic honey scent was transformed into a light yet deeply fruity tone, not as sweet, not as cloying, and unpredictably refreshing. It was the best dessert wine I’ve ever tried.
Warm octopus with purple potatoes and celery
The octopus were barely visible, occasionally I’d find some spongy textures among the salad leaves.
Seared scallops with saffron vinaigrette
Faultless scallops, tender and well seasoned.
Flat spaghetti with lobster and fresh tomato
The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, firm but not tough. Drenched in the tomato sauce that burst with fresh flavours and dotted with delicious lobsters.
Iberico pork chop with cabbage and apple
A very powerful dish that left many marks, each piece of pork was tender, succulent and full of flavour, leaving behind a mouth full of juice.
The tiramisu was layered beautifully and placed in an edible wafer. The overall texture and flavour were both good but could be improved with less cream and more liquor.
This was the best dessert out of the four, the warm and citrusy apple chunks were soft, sugary with a meltable pastry coating.
“Biancomangiare” with rhubard and vanilla
Ricotta and lemon filled cannoli with pistacchio
Verdict - 3/5
Food (good) - Food was decent but not the best Italian restaurant in London. In the area of Knightsbridge, it’s possibly the best one.
Service(excellent) - Service was great, everyone was very friendly and attentive. The sommelier was particularly charming and energetic. Dishes came at the perfect time too.
Cost (£55pp) - one of us kindly paid the bill so I have no clue how much we spent on wine alone. Food wise, you can select 2/3/4 courses, each priced at £36.50/£46.40/£51.50.
15 Lowndes Street, London
SW1X 9EY, 020 7235 5800