Italian food is a favourite of mine, in fact I love most Mediterranean style food; the cheeses, the tomato based dishes, the seafood, and the fresh pasta. I hadn't seen Ben since before Christmas (sidetrack: is it just me, or does anyone else find they spend the first two months of the year catching up with people you didn't see over the family-focused month of December!?) so last week we went along to Toto's in Knightsbridge for a catch up.
Known in the area for being the place to go for contemporary, fresh, Italian food, the clientele was varied, from businessmen to couples and friends, all of them your typical Knightsbridge crowd; beautiful, well-dressed, well-groomed. The restaurant is light and modern, with traditional white tablecloths but funky chairs and aesthetics.
We were seated by the big Belgian fireplace, and after the waitress helped us choose our dishes, we finally got round to discussing Ben's recent trip to Sri Lanka and the elephants he and Oli met there. I completely melted when he told me about how they actually do hold each others tails with their trunks, and it just confirmed that I definitely need to visit the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand next year.
Our starters arrived swiftly, we'd had trouble choosing as everything looked so tasty, but I decided to be healthy and go for Tuna Carpaccio, while Ben had Burrata with sundried and fresh tomatoes. Naturally with both of us being foodies we had to have a taste of the other dish, so we swapped some over and I have now fallen in love with Burrata - I can't believe I'd never had it before!
My tuna carpaccio was incredible, I'm so happy I finally fell in love with raw fish last year. It was the perfect light starter and so refreshing.
We then decided to share a pasta dish so we could save some room for desserts. Usually I don't share food, but I'm so glad I did as it was a really filling dish! We went for the Ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, as all of the fresh pasta is handmade on-site. The pasta was perfectly cooked the Italian way - al dente, and the whole dish was everything I love about Italian food - a homemade carb-fest trying to disguise the fact it's healthy with a word like 'spinach' in it.
Next up was our mains, I went healthy again (only so I could go all-out with dessert), and had the wild-line caught seabass with swiss chard and parsley sauce, while Ben had the steak. He committed the biggest faux pas you can commit in a classy restaurant with an excellent Chef - he asked for the steak to be cooked well done. The waitress' eyes grew wide and she stuttered 'but, sir...we would not recommend that. How about medium-well done?' 'No, well done please, sorry!'. I told him the Chef would come out and hit him, but needless to say the waitress delivered it well-done and with a smile.
For dessert I mumbled about maybe having the more Italian dish of lemon panna cotta, but there was creme brulee with orange and ginger on the menu, and it shocked both Ben and I that I wasn't having it. So he twisted my arm and we agreed that I'd have the creme brulee (my favourite, FYI), he'd have the hot chocolate & gianduia tortino with amaretto ice cream (aka, chocolate pudding), and we'd split them.
We made a good choice. The hot chocolate pudding was insanely good! The creme brulee was also good, but it left a strange after taste, I think it was the orange oil used in it. I just wasn't as enamored with it as I was the chocolate pudding.
We left the warmth of Toto's full but not uncomfortably full, and rushed through the freezing cold air as fast as possible to the car. Our experience was fabulous, excellent food and even better service made it a relaxing evening. It was one of those evenings where you could just sit back and enjoy it, you didn't have to chase after slow staff or send sloppy food back, you just sipped-ate-talked-sipped-ate-talked-repeat.
Sorry for the quality of the photos, I used my GF6 instead of the DSLR because I didn't want to disturb everyone in such a small and sophisticated restaurant with a huge camera :/ I don't think I'll ever get over the awkwardness of taking photos of food...
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