I am always on the look out for vegetarian restaurants and I had often walked past Amico Bio, a vegetarian Italian restaurant on Cloth Fair, near the Barbican. The restaurant is owned by an Italian family and uses organic ingredients. There are also plenty of gluten free and vegan options on the menu. There are two restaurants In London – the other is in Holborn. A vegetarian Italian restaurant certainly intrigued me – on my holidays to Italy, I don’t think I came across many exclusively vegetarian restaurants.
The Barbican restaurant is tucked away on Cloth Fair within easy walking distance of the Smithfield Market and the Church of St Bartholomew the Great. The restaurant decor is simple and rustic – white walls and wooden tables. I went with a small group of people (all carnivores) during National Vegetarian Week for lunch and tried the set menu – three courses and a glass of Lambrusco for £15 (at the time of writing). Or £12 for just the three courses. The evening set menu costs £19.50 for three courses and an Aperol cocktail. The menu changes regularly and there is usually a choice of three starters, three main courses and three desserts.
The last glass of Lambrusco I had was many years ago and it was white, sweet and slightly trashy. I was a little confused when the drinks came out and I was presented with a glass of red wine. However, this is how Lambrusco should be – red, slightly sparkling, dry and refreshing. I have heard that Lambrusco is making a comeback and I can see why.
So on to the food. I had the chickpea cake with carrot salad to start. This comprised of two little discs of pan fried cake served with a dressed salad of carrot ribbons and mixed leaves. I thought it was delicious – the cake was light and very well seasoned and the salad was the perfect accompaniment. My only criticism would be that there wasn’t enough cake but that’s me being greedy 🙂 Vegetable strudel was another starter that was ordered – this was a generous sized portion and very well received.
I chose the wholemeal risotto of the day for my main course, which was Gorgonzola, rocket and pine nut. This was very tasty – rich, cheesy and well seasoned. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a decent sized portion – the rice was al dente and creamy. This was a gluten free option, as was the penne in tomato and aubergine sauce.
For dessert, I had the homemade gelato (a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of cassata flavour) which rounded off my meal perfectly. I was tempted with the vegan cake of the day – a pear and chocolate cake – but I think I needed something a little lighter after the risotto. I did try some cake though and it was pretty fine!
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and I’m pleased to say that the carnivores in the group enjoyed the food too – in fact, one said he’d return! The lunch menu is a bargain, especially considering the use of organic ingredients. The a la carte menu looks wonderful too – smoked cheese and sun dried tomato ravioli in tomato and basil sauce is a vegetarian’s dream dish (speaking for myself). I will definitely be back and I’ll also be drinking Lambrusco.
Amico Bio Barbican
44, Cloth Fair
London. EC1A 7JQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7600 7778
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 12.00 – 15.00 lunch
Monday – Saturday: 17.00 – 22.30 dinner. Closed Bank Holidays
Nearest underground station: Barbican
Typical cost per person excluding drinks: £12 / £19.50 (lunch / dinner set menu); Up to £20 (2 course a la carte)