London Fields is so very trendy, with its quirkly bookshops and old school sewing shop, the slew of house boats on the canal, and the numerous cafes and pubs selling good organic products and spilling out with cool, hip people. So it is no surprise that Lardo located in London Fields is one of the trendiest Italian restaurants in London.
I had been eager to visit Lardo for a long time. I love Italian food and I am always looking for new places to try in East London. Lardo receives consistently strong online reviews from Time Out to Trip Advisor, and it is always busy (you cannot get a table here in the evening without a reservation). So when I went here for a late Sunday lunch recently I was totally excited.
Lardo is located on Richmond road, just on the other side of the park beyond Broadway market, and next to the weird Rawduck restaurant, which seems to attract its fair share of health fadists. The venue is very nice, as its on a quiet and green residential street and has plenty of outdoor seating that basks in the afternoon sun. Inside, there is an open bar and kitchen so you can watch staff prepare your drinks and food. The interior is rustic yet comfortable, with simple wooden tables and seating and a few hand made throw pillows.
We made the most of the relatively mild weather and sat outside. To drink, we opted for the suggested cocktail of the day, Danish Blood Mary, which contains olives, anchovies, capers and fennel in addition to the usual ingredients. It is the first time I have ever had a drink garnished with anchovy and chewing on the salty fish amid mouthfuls of spicy tomato juice was a good combination! The drink was all spicy, salty and tangy at once and an excellent choice. They also had a Beef Bloody Mary on the menu, which contains beef stock, and it sounded interesting but we didn’t try it on this occasion. Another cocktail on their menu, which seemed to be selling very well, was Aperol Spritz.
Lardo’s food menu is a simple one pager and it changes regularly depending on ingredients available and the chefs whim. I was a little disappointed by the lack of choice and it didn’t seem to be very Italian. Because we were dining on a Sunday afternoon, the weekend menu had just a Brunch, Antipasti (appertiser), Pizza and Secondi (main course) section. The majority of menu items were for brunch but as it was 3pm in the afternoon we didn’t feel like eggs. There were no pasta dishes and there was just one option under Secondi, which was pork cutlets with a mint yogurt sauce.
Given the limited options, we decided to have an appetiser followed by pizza. We shared the burrata first, which is a cheese dish common in Southern Italy. It has a mozzarella shell and is filled with mozzarella and cream inside. It tasted deliciously buttery and creamy and would have been amazing with a light salad or some tomato instead of the heavy, filling brown bread it was served with.
We ordered a pizza each for main course and they were large but the crust was thin so it was manageable to eat. Half of the pizzas on the menu were vegetarian, much to my delight, and I ordered the zucchini pizza with goats cheese and anchovies. It didn’t taste like any pizza I have had before and I didn’t realise it was going to be a white pizza (no tomato sauce) when I ordered it. The pizza was served with no melted cheese, just a few spoons of the soft goats cheese that were added after cooking. I really enjoyed the abundance of grilled zucchini rounds but there was an awful lot of olive oil. For some reason, I felt more guilty after eating this pizza than I would a cheesy American pizza… probably because I was very greasy after my meal and needed to go and wash my hands and face from all the oil. Or it could have something to do with the name of the restaurant?
My friend who was dining with me ordered the ham, artichoke and black olive pizza, which looked like a more traditional Italian pizza option.
We finished our meal with cafe lattes, that were served in unusual small squarish coffee cups and were not very good, along with a piece of absolutely delicious tiramisu.
Did Lardo live up to my expectations? No it did not. Is Lardo London’s best Italian restaurant? For a menu without pasta, one main dish on the menu, and serving pizza without melted cheese, I’d say not. The Bloody Mary’s and tirimisu were out of this world. However altogether, Lardo is an overpriced average hipster restaurant. If you want to give it a try, better to go here for a weekend brunch as their eggs with polenta did look quite yummy. If you want a proper Italian feast, nearby Broadway market has a few better options.