Back in the day, you know, as in absolutely anytime before the 90s, being nice was a good thing. Probably because divorce wasn’t an option. But these days, people don’t want to be nice. These days we want to be cool. We want to be interesting. We want to be intriguing, aloof, downright bad, absolutely anything but nice. Because as anyone who’s ever said ‘they were nice’ at the end of a date knows, nice is often code for boring.
Bancone is an Italian restaurant just off of Trafalgar Square, and it’s really, really nice. From the outside you can watch through the window as they make fresh pappardelle, and if you’ve got a reservation (which you’ll need if you’re coming here at peak time), you can be sat down and eating that pappardelle within half an hour. See, nice.
This place serves a short menu of handmade pastas that are comforting, but have enough saffron-butter-this and egg-yolk-confit-that to stop it feeling like another night in with a jar of pesto that’s lived in your flat longer than you have. Granted, some of the dishes are a little heavy on the butter, but others like the silk handkerchiefs (thin sheets of pasta covered in egg yolk and walnut butter) are seriously excellent.
The restaurant itself is one long, skinny rectangle with a couple of larger tables at the back, but really to get peak enjoyment out of Bancone, you want to be sat at the bar. From the counter you can watch as one chef boils up some beef shin ravioli, whilst the other preps a panna cotta. It’s basically like you’re cooking, but with none of the stress, and more time to drink merlot. Why wouldn’t you want to come here and have someone else cook for you, especially when half the mains are just under a tenner?
So you see, when we say Bancone is nice, we don’t mean that it’s boring. Nice might not mean edgy, cool, or even particularly interesting. But it does mean having a decent evening with some decent pasta. Unlike the loud, the exciting, the dangerous, most of the time, nice is exactly what you need. And so is Bancone.
Silk Handkerchiefs, Walnut Butter, And Confit Egg Yolk
Remember that time you saw a group of dachshund puppies walking in sync? You’ll have a similar reaction to this pasta. It’ll be a lot of ooh-ing, aw-ing and declarations that your life will never be the same. The thin sheets of pasta with the thick, nutty sauce is an absolute winner. Order this.
Potato Gnocchi With Sage Butter
Is butter a food group? We don’t know. Or care. But it definitely is at Bancone, and there’s a lot of it on this plate. If you do get it, share it.
Beef Shin Ravioli With Saffron Butter
Being nice is about being good on the inside. And that’s a rule that definitely applies to ravioli. The beef shin inside these is pretty great, but, as with a lot of dishes here, the sauce is a bit too heavy on the butter.
Brown Shrimp Tagliolini With Seaweed Butter
We like the ocean. Really, we’re big fans. But we were worried this could be too salty. Basically, too much ocean. It isn’t. It’s excellent. A bowl of this for lunch will sort you right out.
Bucatini Cacio E Pepe
There’s cheese. There’s pepper. And there’s pasta. We’ve eaten them together before. And we’ll eat them together again. This version of a popular classic is decent enough, but not particularly memorable.
Tarragon Panna Cotta With Poppy Seeds And Lemon
This is tasty, but requires some careful menu planning. If you’re looking to get this at the end of your meal then go for one of the tomato or fish pastas. Eating this after one of the creamier dishes isn’t a safe bet. Otherwise you might end up in the back of a cab discussing the merits of margarine with your driver. True story.