Lasagne fails to warm the heart of our reviewer
A new face on the High Street usually gets everyone talking, but since Mistura opened about three months ago it hasn't attracted many eulogies from Actonites.
Maybe this has something to do with the fact that it all looks a bit dark and closed from the outside, but undaunted we ventured along there last Friday in need of some molly coddling after a hard week.
Before being transformed into Mistura, this was the Spice Garden. Somehow we never managed to go there. And neither, it seems, did anyone else as it was perpetually empty.
Now, the interior is unfussy and modern-looking and not as dark as it looks from outside, but not exactly welcoming. We could have done with a few more personal touches. However, it wasn't empty - there was one other table occupied and some pleasant jazz playing. All we needed was to be warm enough to take our coats off, so we asked whether the heating could be turned up. Or even on. [We had turned ours on that morning and we are generally later than most.]
There was some activity after our request, but then a woman came to the table, announced that she was sorry but the heating didn't work, and turned on her heel giving us no time to reply. No suggestions that we might want to sit closer to a heat source or of free drinks/soup/blankets/ so I huffily kept my coat on. I always think it's very unfriendly to keep hats and coats on indoors, but I was feeling in a provocative mood.
We ordered a couple of beers (Moretti) and some olives which were straight from the fridge but nicely flavoured with thyme. These didn't last long and improved my mood, but not the ambient temperature.
For my starter I had chosen lentils with halloumi cheese. The lentils were fine - but straight from the fridge (well obviously, this was a lentil salad - although I don't think it was advertised as such on the menu) but the halloumi had been hot before it was placed on top of them. If this had been a warm lentil salad and more interestingly flavoured it would have been a much more successful affair. You may say that is mainly down to the central heating and not the chef, but I can't really think of any successful dishes based on hot/cold food combinations.
Anyway, my other half had chosen tomato bruschetta which I thought was nice. The ciabatta was soaked through with the oily flavouring of the nicely flavoured tomato, olive and garlic topping and it was warm.
My main course was lasagne. It arrived measuring around 6cm x 10cm, on a small puddle of tomato passata with the other half of the plate being taken up by salad. I had been alerted to the salad by the menu, but at £9 I reckon the lasagne cost around £1 per mouthful. The lasagne was nothing special, despite the breadcrumbs on top. But it was hot.
My other half had ordered mushroom risotto. This was odd behaviour as it is something I often cook. I always use even a very few porcini mushrooms - but here there were none. The dish seemed to be made with an awful lot of cream, a few mushrooms and not much else. Perfectly edible but very boring "and too much like rice pudding," he commented.
We decided to share a tiramisu which, the helpful waiter told us, the chef said was the best in London. I hate to disappoint him, but it quite simply wasn't. I'm not sure if the tiramisu was the best in Acton as I haven't researched other tiramisu possibilities in W3. However, it was unlike any tiramisu I have eaten here or in Italy. A good tiramisu, in my book, is an irresistible concoction of creamy egginess and coffee-and-amaretto soaked sponge deliciousness. I don't know where the egg had gone in this one. It was very claggy, about 3cm deep and didn't taste terribly interesting. We were unable to finish it and felt too awful to explain why.
Our bill came to £39.50 without service. Our meal was perfectly adequate - and I would urge others to try Mistura and report back: I'm happy to be told that my mood or body temperature affected the taste of what was on my plate. So don't let me put you off.
October 12, 2009