I love food.
This is an established fact.
What you might not be aware of is that, since moving to London, I’ve become a leeeeettle bit of a food snob… Just a little bit. And it’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m generally just a little bit sceptical of chain restaurants.
Like, there are so many AMAZING new places opening every month, not to mention exciting limited pop-ups and fantastic street food stands… so why on earth would I choose to go to a standard chain restaurant!
Well you know what?
I was wrong. Am wrong. Whatever. WRONG. SO WRONG.
The team at Strada* invited me and some of my best blog buds down to try their sexy new Spring menu and I’m going to be honest and say that I very nearly turned it down. I KNOW. What an idiot.
But I didn’t. And I’m so glad I didn’t, because Strada has completely managed to change my opinion on chain restaurants.
The decor was lovely, the service was five-star, the drinks frequently topped up, and the food… well. See for yourselves!
We started the evening with glasses of chilled prosecco, green olives and a couple of the schiacciatellas (flatbreads) to nibble on while we browsed the menu.
On the recommendation of our lovely waitress, Sophie, we chose the garlic, and the tomato and pesto.
Hot, crispy and perfectly toasted. The garlic was yum, but the tomato and pesto was my fave! So flavourful.
We ordered 7 starters. Between 4 of us.
I’m not even sorry.
The mushroom and truffle bruschetta was my requested dish, and it was great! Perfectly seasoned pan-roasted mushrooms cooked in butter and truffle oil, and served over crunchy toast.
The caprese salad was so good we ordered two! Grilled avocado is something I’d never even have thought of and it is GAME CHANGING. Served alongside creamy burrata mozzarella and roasted tomatoes, this was one of the standout dishes of the night.
We also ordered two lots of the crispy squid, sprinkled with paprika and served with a parsley and caper mayo. It was (again) great, but I wasn’t as wowed as I was with the other dishes. However, AJ doesn’t actually like squid and she did actually really like this so there you go!
Our last lot of starters was a double portion of the arancini: crispy, cheesy, tomato-y rice balls served with a deliciously spicy tomato sauce. SO. GOOD.
For mains, I once again followed Sophie’s recommendations and ordered the pumpkin girasoli. And I’m going to put it out there right now and say that I won that night’s round of Who Ordered The Best Dish.
Fresh pasta stuffed with soft pumpkin, drizzled generously with sage butter and sprinkled with crushed amaretti biscuit. YES. I KNOW.
I’ve been to Italy and eaten my body weight in pasta and this is still one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had in my life.
It’s very rich, what with all the butter and what not, and I have to admit that I didn’t actually finish it (not that the girls complained – more for them to try!). But it was soft, sweet and utterly delicious.
Erica went for another delicious pasta dish: seafood linguine. Pasta noodles tossed in a lovely chilli tomato sauce with king prawns and mussels. Erica had never really eaten pasta until she went to Italy last month but she loved it and she loved this. Big thumbs up!
AJ chose the delicious pan-roasted chicken and mushrooms. Perfectly cooked chicken served with the most amazingly thick and savoury mushroom sauce and topped with greenery.
And Claire was the smart one and ordered the Goat’s Cheese Market Salad! Fresh and flavourful, but light enough to not leave her rolling around in her seat like the rest of us – it had tons of greens, mixed with orange pieces, beetroot, butternut squash and creamy goat’s cheese. A real five-star salad!
We also ordered side dishes of crispy rosemary potatoes and mixed leaf parmesan salad, which were both delicious – though in hindsight may have been a mistake because SO MUCH FOOD.
But we didn’t stop there. OH NO.
We all ordered desserts. All of us. Four desserts. All the desserts.
I had the lemon ricotta cheesecake. Light and creamy, served with a berry compote and utterly yum.
Erica had the lightest, fluffiest, coffee-est tiramisu I’ve ever tried.
AJ went for a classic bowl of mango sorbet, and Claire had the pear and almond tart.
One more quick thing: I never usually mention wine choices at restaurants.
Usually I go for red, but apart from that I’m not really fussed about what I’m drinking. But Strada completely bowled me over with this one.
We ordered two bottles of wine between us: one white and one red. AJ and I were on the red and weren’t fussed so we let Sophie pick for us. She ordered us her favourite and tried to tell me it had chocolate notes in it.
And I was like: Ha! Yeah alright mate whatevs…
Because let’s be honest: wine never tastes of chocolate or berries or mushrooms or whatever it is they try to tell you is in it.
But you know what? THIS ACTUALLY TASTED OF CHOCOLATE.
I got a bit overexcited and I think there’s a photo of me out there somewhere grinning like a loon at my glass but thankfully I can’t find it so hurrah for that.
All hail Sophie the Waitress for knowing exactly what she’s talking about. She absolutely nailed it on every single one of her suggestions!
The service was actually one of our favourite bits of the night. The entire staff were so friendly and helpful, not just with us but with absolutely everyone in the restaurant.
We were in there for FOUR hours and at no point did we feel like they were trying to get rid of us. Do you know how rare that is in London?!
So yeah. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I will absolutely be going back to Strada asap.
And I would totally encourage you to do the same.
Order the pumpkin girasoli. Thank me later.
*We were gifted my meal in exchange for a review.
As always, all thoughts, words, photos and opinions are mine.