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L'Anima Italian restauarant

L'Anima Italian restaurant

When I leave the office on Fridays, I’m always excited about the possibilities of the upcoming weekend. And the best way to start the weekend, in my opinion, is to have drinks and dinner with Jon.

Last Friday was Jon’s turn to plan our weekly “date night.” We met at a bar after work, and Jon announced we were going to L’Anima, which I’d heard of, but had no idea where it was located. Imagine my surprise to find it was near Liverpool Street station, about five minutes’ walk from my office. So it was like going back to work, pretty much, which was a bummer. I tried not to hold L’Anima’s location against it, but really, who wants to leave work on Friday and then end up eating dinner a stone’s throw away? Plus, while L’Anima’s sleek, all-white interior is lovely to look at, the views of the EDF office across the way (whose decor would be charitably described as utilitarian) didn’t bring to mind carefree glamour.

fritto misto at L'Anima

fritto misto at L'Anima

Luckily, Jon knows me well, and I was able to forget the whole location-near-my-office thing once our starters arrived. You see, part of the reason we were at L’Anima was so I could order the fritto misto. A year ago, we were in Venice and I was scarfing down as much fritto misto as humanly possible, and since then, I have craved that type of high-quality, fried seafood bounty. L’Anima’s version really does live up to the hype. There was a good variety of seafood in there (whole prawns, softshell crab, calamari, fish) and everything was crispy, grease-free and perfectly salted. Definitely worth the £14.25.

pappardelle with duck and pistachio ragu

pappardelle with duck ragu and toasted pistachios

Our pasta courses were slightly less appealing. Jon’s pappardelle with a duck ragu and pistachios (£11) was too intense. I hardly tasted anything except salt, which was a shame considering the luscious texture of the pappardelle.

chili and crab tagliolini - with tons of dill

taglierini with garlic, chilli and crab (and tons of dill)

And whenever I see a pasta with garlic, chilli and crab, I can’t resist ordering it. L’Anima’s version was served, inexplicably, with a ton of dill mixed in. It was overpowering. And it doesn’t help that I really dislike dill. So despite the generosity of crab meat and the wonderful al dente taglierini in this dish, it was hard for me to finish it. For £17.50, I expected a lot better. (Which means I’ll stick with the version served at Olivo in Belgravia, then. It’s so good there that occasionally I forgo their creamy-fishy spaghetti bottarga to have the linguine al granchio, which seems like a bargain now at £14.50).

grilled sea bream at L'Anima

grilled sea bream at L'Anima

Jon’s grilled sea bream (£16) tasted like summertime, with a smoky charred skin and a silky, firm flesh. Simple and good.

three-cheese plate

three-cheese plate

Although we were stuffed, the three-cheese plate for £10 seemed too good a deal to pass up. The generosity of pecorino, taleggio and gorgonzola were a nice way to end our meal.

Overall, I’d go back to L’Anima (especially for that fritto misto), but next time, I’ll skip the pastas. With a £30 bottle of an easy-drinking soave, our bill totaled £115 for two.

L’Anima, 1 Snowden Street, EC2A 2DQ, 020 7422 7000; closest Tube station: Liverpool Street Station.
L'Anima on Urbanspoon

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