Last night I managed to cross off another restaurant on my ever-growing 'must try' list. This was Le Querce, an Italian restaurant just two stops away from me in Honor Oak Park. Ben from London Food & Drink wrote a great review on it recently which got it on the list in the first place, so when a friend of mine suggested we visit, I was game. It didn't bother him that he's been three times in the last two weeks.
Approaching the restaurant, you may be forgiven for not giving it a second glace. Inside, the decor is basic but homely and I liked the giant bulb of garlic that decorated our table. We were given slightly tatty menus which were quite short, and our charming waitress reeled off a list of starters, pizzas and mains from the specials board. While supping on a Sardinian lager that I forget the name of, I found it really difficult to choose. I knew I wanted a pasta dish, but there were many dishes I also wanted too so that in the end it took me a good 10 or 15 minutes to finally make my mind up. I had a rather exasperated companion.
My (rather poorly photographed) starter arrived , ravioli with ricotta and sage butter. The pasta was stuffed with greens and creamy cheese, and the butter sauce was rich with a subtle hint of sage and grated Parmesan on top. I never usually order pasta in restaurants as there are usually more interesting options, but I was really glad I did here. The home-made pasta was silky and perfectly cooked, and the well seasoned filling was delicious. I could have easily polished off a bucket of this. We were given some lovely fresh loose-crumbed bread to accompany it and I mopped up any remaining sage butter greedily. We were off to a good start.
Calves liver with baby onions, sage & spinach
For my main, I went for the double sage option and had the calves liver, cooked medium served with baby onions, sage and spinach. I've only had calves liver once before at Locanda Locatelli and the portion was so enormous that it turned out to be a bit of a struggle. I can happily report this wasn't the case here; the slices of liver were buttery on the inside and the portion size just right. I would have liked a few more of the caramelised baby onions though, as their sweetness went really well with the liver. Again, this was greedily mopped up with some more bread.
Being such a rich dish, by this time I was pretty stuffed. However, the ice creams are something of a speciality at Le Querce. The long list of ice creams or sorbets includes onion or garlic ice cream, pear & Pernod sorbet, apple & black pepper ice cream. We went for a scoop of chilli ice cream, a scoop of aubergine and a scoop of the strawberry and balsamic sorbet. The aubergine ice cream, greyish in colour didn't taste of much but the chilli was really surprising. It was almond flavoured, and once the cold ice cream got warmer in the mouth, you got a real chilli kick. The strawberry balsamic was also delicious and really moreish. While we were chatting to the owner about how the chilli ice cream is made, he told us that he thought the most successful sorbet is the strawberry, chilli and blue curaco and presented us with a scoop of it; he was right, of course, and this combined our two favourite flavours.
The bill in total came to £75 including a bottle of Prosecco and a couple of beers, which I thought was really good value given the quality of the cooking and the service - the waiting staff were all really friendly and personable. Whilst I wouldn't recommend you hike across London to visit if you lived in, say North West London, it's a great neighbourhood restaurant for us South East dwellers and somewhere I'll definitely return.
66 Brockley Rise,
London SE23 1LN
Tel: 020 86903761