Stumbling upon a great place to eat often seems almost better than a planned visit to a restaurant. Old Compton Street in London’s Soho has a plethora of bars and eateries from the casual to more formal, many of which have been Soho bastions for years. Mr Glam and I were on the way to cocktails after the theatre when we spotted Tuscanic Merende, a relative new comer.
The waft of sweet tomatoes and garlic beckoned us through the door, where the warmth from the wood fired ovens greeted us with wonderful smoky aromas. The open kitchen was abundant with large roasted Crostini, vast bowls of olive oil drenched anti pasti and fragrant Tuscan soups. We squeezed past the glassed in kitchen counter and made our way to the back, where the restaurant opened up slightly and was filled with simple bare wood tables.
Open shelves set against white tiled walls held pots of green and black olives, nestled in golden oil, vivid fresh pesto and jars of traditional home made soups, thick with tomatoes and vegetables. A stack of typically Tuscan, splatter glazed terracotta bowls, enticingly priced to temp you to take one home, were lined along another shelf. The constant low level Italian chatter added to the laid back ambiance, whilst the service was helpful and friendly.
We both chose crostini which arrived warm and fragrant, topped with roasted tomatoes and tangy with Scamorza cheese. A simple pear and Peccorino salad with a bowl of olives to share, nearly completed our meal. The final element was a wonderful bottle of dark, heavy Brunello red wine, which we sipped slowly, all intentions of cocktails and bar snacks long forgotten.
Tomato, Ham And Provolone Cheese Crostini
(Posh cheese on toast)
- 400g ( about 36) cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 4 peeled cloves of garlic cut in half
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 thin slice of fresh cut bread, preferably Italian
- 160g (5 and 1/2 oz) very thinly sliced Provolone cheese
- 8 slices of Italian ham (depending on size of bread)
- 8 small basil leaves
- Set oven to 150c 120c fan (300f)
- Place the tomatoes and garlic in an oven proof dish or roasting pan, pour over olive oil and ensure everything is well covered.
- Place in the oven for about 30 minutes until the skins split and the tomatoes are soft, remove and set aside to keep warm
- Toast one side of the bread under the grill, turn over and place the cheese equally across the four slices. Place back under the grill until just melted
- Top with one or two slices of ham, depending on the size of your bread, and equal amounts on each, of the cherry tomatoes and the garlic, if desired
- Place back under the grill for 2 – 3 mins
- Remove, top with basil leaves and serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired