Review of 'Rustiko'

So there we were, on an early Friday night wandering around Soho (as you do) looking for somewhere to eat. I had a hankering for Japanese but this night it was my companion's choice. So, as we made our way along Old Compton Street there was something about the small menu for the equally small “Rustiko” that drew us in despite the slightly loud music. The ground floor is small with a trendy metal spiral staircase going up (more seating) or down (bar area and toilets). A large bar dominates the left side of the restaurant with the kitchen in the back. There were a couple of tables out on the pavement (sidewalk) for those that wanted to get close to the night-life of Soho (!) or, more likely, wanted to have a smoke. We chose to eat indoors - it was getting a bit chilly.

Shown to a small table we made ourselves comfortable and browsed the menu. It is divided into a number of different sections with the key ones being: “Pots & Mugs” (small appetisers served in…you guess) with items between £3 and £5, “Piattini” (more, slightly larger, appetisers served in “saucers”) between £4 and £7, then mains in the “Grilled Pizza”, “Pasta”, “Fish”, and “Meat” sections with items between £8 and £18, the four deserts on offer all were priced at £4. So, not expensive by any means.

We decided to start with the “arancini” (“rice balls filled with bollagnese”; £4) which were served in a mug lined with brown paper and topped with shaved Parmesan - Not bad but a bit bland with a nice amount of cheese and the hint of tomato. Thankfully they were not in any way greasy at all.

My main was the “grilled calamari” (“served with wilted leek, chorizo & paprika vinaigrette”; £15) which appealed to me when I saw it on the menu posted on the wall outside - A whole calamari is quite an unusual item on a menu and I am a sucker for chorizo. This was very tasty and not at all overcooked. The veggies and chorizo all around it was very tasty because, of course, there is very little flavour to the calamari.

My companion decided not to order the risotto of the day (chicken £12) but instead had the “chicken supreme” (“served with roast butternut squash, crispy curly kale and pesto”; £14) which she said was very moist and quite tasty. To me it looked just like a hunk of chicken (which it was) perched on top of a very small amount of the rest of the dish with some decorative cherry tomatoes around the outside of the plate - I can't say it really inspired me.

We passed on the deserts but there was really nothing special there with the only item catching my eye even remotely being the “cannoli” (“light pastry filled with light ricotta, chocolate chips and candied citrus”; £4) which was just too much, seriously, chocolate chips? To me a good cannoli is simple yet very decadent - Less on the extra bits.

At £45 including a £5 “recommended gratuity” (12.5%) this was quite reasonable for the area. The service was very helpful with our waitress seeming to be quite overwhelmed when we said we had thought the food quite good - She kept coming back to make sure everything was ok and smiled the whole time. I can't say the food was spectacular but it was prepared well. A number of people in the restaurant were very loud and in the harsh surfaces of the interior it did mean conversation was often quite difficult. Many were also availing themselves of the bar which seems to be a big part of the business - So, be aware. Note that this is also quite a rowdy area of Soho…

If you are in the area looking for drinks and some decent nibbles, if you are hungry, this might just be the place for you.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2016-07-08

Cuisine: Italian

Address: 37 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JY

Public Transport: TUBE Leicester Square

Location: London (England) - Soho



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Telephone: +44 207 7346 361