Padella proves less can be more

Many world cuisines may lay claim to being the best in the world. The French aspire to the epitome of haute cuisine. The Japanese to minimalistic artistic food almost too pretty to eat. The Italians though take a different approach, elevating simple food with cheap ingredients to hearty flavoursome family food

Pasta can appear to be deceptively simple, made from flour and eggs. In the U.K., this is seen as unworthy of holding its own flavour and is usually drowned in sauces. The Italian mentality though is to present the pasta as the star and their sauces are a lot lighter as a result

Padella is one of London’s rising stars as evidenced by the healthy queue Emma and I encountered on the Saturday lunchtime that we dined. We arrived 20 minutes before opening and were seated within 15 minutes. There’s a sign saying that they seat 25 guests every 19 minutes so as not to over-stretch the kitchen and the lady managing the queue did it with efficiency, fairness and a sense of humour

She was also extremely helpful in advising us about dishes. Padella are passionate about hand-rolled pasta, so her advice was to concentrate on their pasta dishes, ordering between one and two dushea each depending on appetite. You can see the staff making fresh pasta right at the window as you walk past before they open

Her first recommendation was her personal favourite – pici (thick noodles) with marjoram, lemon and golden garlic. Wow, the flavour was intense and every mouthful was a zingy, creamy delight. This is a must order if you go

We then had a dish which had been brought back into the menu due to customer requests – pappardelle with 8 hour dexter beef shin ragu. One of my yardsticks for restaurant food is that I shouldn’t be able to cook the dish better at hone and this ragu was outstanding with the shin coming away in tender chunks

Our final dish was one of the specials on that day – pappardelle with fennel sausage and fennel sauce. The aniseed of the fennel came through but again, the sauce didn’t overpower the pasta

It’s hard to convey how good the pasta was just from the photos. Interestingly, it was the simplicity of the pasta which made it outstanding but the distinctive flavours really popped. I only hope that we can find pasta this good when we’re on holiday on the Amalfi coast later this year

6 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TQ

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