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Bocca di Lupo

by Krista

Boca di luppo mussels 

Bocca di Lupo
12 Archer Street

Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

The Victim: Dad

The Damage: About £80 for the two of us.

The Background: I had high hopes for Bocca di Lupo. And there you go, I've spoiled the whole review already. Because in that one sentence, you can hear the "…but…" can't you? I'm sorry.

It starts out with my dad's observations of life in London, as we exit the #19 bus: "Well, I'll tell you what I've observed about London this trip. People take the bus a lot. And they smoke. And everyone is rolling a suitcase behind them."

Observant, isn't he?

And as we enter Archer Street, the former New York City cop in him tenses up. "This street. Why don't I like this street? I don't like this street."

I have to admit. There were a lot of random people just standing around. Waiting for nothing. It was odd.

But then we entered Bocca di Lupo and everything was fine again.

The Entrance: I really want a seat at the restaurant's "chef's counter." But I'm denied. To the back of the restaurant we go. And you know? It's sort of like being in a hotel restaurant. The decor is nothing special. Also, Bocca di Lupo is smaller than I expected. Maybe 12 tables in the back of the restaurant? Plus the bar seating.

And our table was wobbly. That was annoying, but our very nice server promptly saw to it once I pointed it out and the wobble, for the most part, went away.

The Menu: I like the menu. The menu clearly states where each dish is from, and you can order pretty much any dish in a small or large portion. I like this. Because you know, with my dad in town, I've been eating out for six days straight and I need a little break. Small portions it is.

The Food: Mussels to start. My father is a very predictable man. When I was a kid, we went to Maine for two weeks one summer, where my father took us from one all-you-can-eat mussels house to another. Buckets of mussels. Really, buckets. At Bocca di Lupo, we get a bowl. A very generous bowl.

Now we had just had mussels in Paris the day before at one of those Paris chain restaurants. (Again, my father is a very predictable man.) Those mussels were good, but the Bocca di Lupo mussels are huge in comparison. They're meaty. They're good. They are mussels with celery, tomato and thyme. It's a clean-feeling dish. It's fine.

Boca di luppo tortellini 

For me, it's the tortelloni with with spinach and morels. I keep trying to like mushrooms, really I do. But eh. I still don't. The tortelloni are cooked well and the filling is moist but I sorta feel like it's all a little too clean and bland-tasting for me. I need salt. Or something.

Boca di luppo risotto 

For my father, it's a seafood risotto. He says it's nice. Actually, at the time, he says it's just "okay." But then the next day, he keeps saying, "You know that meal last night? Now that was really good." So you never know, I suppose.

For Dessert: We split one–just one–chocolate and marzipan ball–and order some dessert wine from the very well organized wine list. It's a nice ending.

The Loos: Pretty decent.

The Service: Pretty excellent. Really a nice guy.

The Verdict: Eh. I'm on the fence for this review. I liked how interesting the restaurant's menu is. I liked the idea of sitting at the chef's counter. I just wasn't wowed by my food, but given how everyone is salivating over this place, maybe I should give it another chance. Or maybe everyone's just on some hype train that hasn't stopped at my station.

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Oliver April 27, 2009 - 9:42 am

I agree with you – I think the place is pretty overratd. It’s good, at times even great, but the overall response to Bocca has been blindly rapturous. Recent reviews by some critics (e.g. Marina O’Loughlin and Jay Rayner) have been a bit more balanced than Giles Coren and others were when it opened.

Fat Les April 27, 2009 - 7:12 pm

I was impressed on my first visit, maybe egged on further by the presence of Jacob Kenedy. Perhaps it’s best you give this place a second chance and for that matter, I likewise. It should be interesting to exchange notes thereafter.

NB For some reason I couldn’t post this comment on Firefox so I had to use Chrome instead.

Caitlin April 27, 2009 - 11:46 pm

Hey there, I can’t believe they wouldn’t let you sit at the bar! What a shame, I haven’t been there yet, but everyone keeps saying ‘you must sit at the bar’, sorry you didn’t get to, maybe next time? P.S your Dad sounds great!

Krista April 28, 2009 - 6:43 am

You have to specifically ask for the chef’s counter when booking.

Gourmet Chick April 28, 2009 - 2:40 pm

Interesting Krista – I loved it – maybe because I had a huge appetite and we ordered lots of little plates to share which I think might be the trick. Anyway it would be boring if everyone liked the same things entirely. I agree with your Dad though – dodgy street!

Andy April 28, 2009 - 6:04 pm


I reckon whether you like this place depends on what you order. Some of what I’ve had has been amazing (the foie gras sausage, the crescentini, the artichokes, the cotechino, the cassata…) but some a bit more average – maybe you just didn’t order so well.

Regarding the critical appraisal of this place, I think it has a lot to do with it providing interesting food at reasonable prices – look at the similar reception that Terroirs and the Giaconda Dining Rooms got. I think critics are so amazed to find good food at reasonable prices that they go into praise-overdrive…

Krista April 28, 2009 - 10:06 pm

Yeah, I’d agree. I think I need to try more dishes. At the chef’s counter!

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