Earlier this month new Italian restaurant Tempo, helmed by Japanese chef Yoshi Yamada (who trained in Michelin-starred restaurants in Sorrento, Sardinia and Florence), popped up along Curzon Street in swish Mayfair. Lured by the varied menu which includes a selection of cicchetti, antipasti, pasta, meat and fish, B and I headed over for supper last week and were surprised to stumble into an almost empty restaurant on a Friday evening. A sweet Spanish waitress greeted us eagerly at the door, led us to a window table and promptly brought over the menus and a bowl of grissini, focaccia and crispbread.
We ordered ourselves some vino and a couple of small plates to start. A portion of Frito di Calamari and Bianchetti (deep-fried squid and whitebait) was light and greaseless, but the squid had been overcooked so was a little dry and leathery. The whitebait was good, but not extraordinary.
The Insalata di Polpo fared better – the single seared octopus tentacle was meaty and nicely set off by the colourful salad of tart granny smiths, refreshing parsley and sharp pomegranate jewels. It was a tiny serving but then, it did only cost £2.75.
A larger plate of Venison Carpaccio and Pickled Summer Vegetables followed, and it was absolutely delicious. The meat fresh and meltingly-soft, complemented beautifully by the sprightly vinegar doused vegetables and peppery rocket.
Our antipasti pick of Marinated Artichoke Salad with Burrata Pugliese was equally delightful – luscious creamy burrata cheese and salad leaves simply dressed in olive oil, with tender artichokes and a smooth jerusalem artichoke purée.
Pasta is always a good yardstick to judge an Italian restaurant against, so we ordered two. The first was a Wild Rabbit, Pistachio and Sage Tortelli which although a great marriage of flavours, was unfortunately let down by the poorly-made stiff and unyielding pasta.
I was also disappointed by the Cornish Crab Tagliolini with Dill and Lime which was so overloaded with the aromatic herb that the sweet delicate crab meat was completely masked by it.
Our choice of main course, a Baby Chicken with Barley and Wild Rocket was nicely-charred but had clearly been left sitting on the robata grill too long, sucking all the moisture out of what would otherwise have been a juicy bird.
Having bypassed dessert at lunch, I was ready for a satisfying sweet ending to our evening. Sadly the Summer Berry Tart with Raspberry Sorbet (which came highly recommended by our bubbly waitress) was pretty ordinary – the fruit and crème pâtissière were fine but the tart case was thick and stodgy, not unlike the ones available at your local supermarket.
The Peach and Elderberry Jelly and Mascarpone Cream was again pleasant enough, but nothing special. Despite the uninspiring puds quite a few of the savoury courses showed real promise, with a handful of stunners (namely the venison and burrata). Prices are also palatable considering the Mayfair location, but beware as it does rack up when you order dish after dish. Worth a peek if you’re in the area, just stay away from the pasta.
54 Curzon Street
London, W1J 8PG
t. 020 7629 2742