Friday, 12 December 2014

Paesan - Exmouth Market


I don't like the term food blogger. It's meaning seems to be changing - evolving into a phrase that implies knowledge, understanding, and qualification to talk on the subject of food. I know and follow some food bloggers to whom that description fits, but the standard of their writing is so high they really should be known as food writers.

'Writer' is a step up, in my hierarchy, although perhaps you have to be paid to achieve that status. I don't know, it's all too confusing.

Needless to say, I'm not a expert on food. Far from it. I don't know what half the words on the menu mean, while the other half I struggle to spell. When it comes to reviewing restaurants, I have no direction, no editorial calendar. I go where I'm invited, I go where I'm taken, I go to places that take my fancy. I don't chase the latest craze. I don't chase the latest fad. My Instagram isn't curated. My reviews are generally just a collection of anecdotes and ramblings, with an opinion of the food left until the very end.

(So far, this piece is fitting the bill perfectly)

That's the point though. I'm not setting out to win Best Read Food Blog of 2014 or cover every single burger vendor in London. I'm not looking to sweep my cape up and down the street, destroying restaurants with a single utterance, while the maître d' lies in a puddle to stop my feet getting wet. If I achieve the latter, that's just a 'nice to have' really, not something I'm actually aiming for.

I write this, sat with a fictional glass of whisky at midnight on a Friday, as I enjoy doing it. That's it. And, if anyone enjoys reading it - that's good. Thanks, and I hope it's helpful the next time you eat out.

This is the best way to write. No pressure, no deadlines, no cares. So, on to another glass of fictional whisky and a quick mention of Paesan, on London's Exmouth Market (which is confusingly a street, not a market). Go there, it's very good!

Although, perhaps more than a three word review is needed this time...


They must put something in the water in Exmouth Market - the street has more top eateries than you could shake a fat bloated belly at. If I lived within a five minutes walk of the place, I'd be close to death. And what an incredibly well-fed, big-smile-on-my-face death that would be.

The problem is, with so much fantastic choice, expectations are high before you've even read the menu. Anyone dining at Paesan for the first time needn't worry though. As I said, it's very good!


A starter of burrata - a cheese filled with cream, that can cause an artery to harden from sight alone - with a sweet, spicy caponata, and cracker like flat bread, is a dish that has you questioning your attraction to your date. Do you really like them enough to share this fairly? What is fair anyway? The government say a man needs 2,500 calories vs. 1,500 for a woman. Technically, fair is a 62.5% share of this burrata in my favour. Gimme gimme gimme!

Best to go to Paesan with someone you don't really like, who doesn't eat a lot. Or just eat alone. I wouldn't judge you. Again, it's very good.


Next, pappardelle with beef shin ragu. Long strands of slurpingly good fresh egg pasta, covered in a sweet tomato sauce and beef cooked for so long, tender doesn't begin to describe it. Seriously, this meat had been boiled down to a plate of DNA, or whatever it becomes when meat has broken into strands thinner than, well, strands. Do I really need to say it? 

It's very good.

Then we hit the pudding and, perhaps, that three word review doesn't quite hold true.

I'm just never sure about Italian restaurants and pudding. It might be heresy to say, but there must be more to Italian desserts than panna cotta and tiramisu. Both dishes are usually a pile of cream, shoved in a glass with as much care, attention, and love as a parent gives a dead hamster. It's then left at the back of the fridge until someone hears the scratching and realises there's still life left in the damn thing.

Not that Paesan's pudding had any trace of rodent, you understand. It's just a bit dull. I blame myself for ordering the panna cotta. Perhaps it's a 'must have' for the English on an Italian menu, but it's their choice to put it on the menu and having followed the preceding two courses, it should light up my mouth like a marshmallow on a sparkler, not have all the excitement of a pot of Elmlea...or that dead hamster.

I'll throw down the gauntlet then, to all Italians (or Italian restaurateurs) who may never read this review - please point me in the direction of a good Italian pudding!

In summary, issues with Italian puddings aside...Paesan - it's very good.

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