Shelley and I have been great friends since we were thirteen when we met at high school in Durban, South Africa. Shelley moved to the UK in 1999 and I followed in 2003 and we’ve both lived here ever since. I even lived with her for a year back in 2004/5 in Surbiton and she was one of my bridesmaids when I got married in Bologna in 2013.
Every six weeks or so we like to meet for lunch and a catch up. On this occasion we met at Four to Eight, an independent Italian restaurant in Covent Garden. As my husband is from Bologna, we often have Italian for lunch on Saturdays and Four to Eight was certainly a good find! In fact, it’s a bit of a running joke as Shelley knows that whenever we meet for lunch it will either be Italian or Tapas.
The decor is stylish and contemporary but has a relaxed ambience. The wine cellar and bar in the centre of the restaurant is a focal point and with floor to ceiling windows, it’s lovely and bright.
The service was excellent – attentive but not overly so. I was really impressed with our waiter’s knowledge of wine and asked if he was studying to be a sommelier. He replied that the restaurant gives all their waiters training in understanding wine, which I thought was quite special as he was able to recommend wines to go with our food.
As with most Italian restaurants, there was a bread basket to start. My husband certainly measures a restaurant by the quality (and quantity) of their bread and Four to Eight did not disappoint!
The concept of the restaurant is that their food comprises of between four to eight primary ingredients and as with all good Italian food – simplicity is key.
All the chefs are from different regions in Italy and the menu is a reflection of their regional cuisines – from Northern dishes such as risotto Milanese to the clam and cuttlefish linguine from the South. They source only the best quality British and Italian ingredients and they cook to order. If you’re seated downstairs, you can watch them cook from their open kitchen.
For starters my husband had the burrata, I had the BBQ octopus and Shelley opted for the poached egg with duck proscuitto and braised lentils. We ordered a bottle of prosecco to accompany our food and enjoyed our starters immensely.
Of course, when you’re catching up with friends it takes a while to order and eat (as you’re talking so much). At no point did we feel rushed, which is always a good thing.
For mains Shelley had the fish of the day, which I believe was stone bass. My husband and I opted for the clam and cuttlefish linguine. It’s a modern take on a linguine vongole (which is one of our favourite dishes) and it was very good – perhaps a tad bit too oily at the bottom of the bowl but otherwise very tasty. Shelley absolutely loved her fish and still talks about it today!
And of course no meal is complete without dessert but we were all quite full so decided to share one. We opted for the bitter milk chocolate mousse with malt ice-cream and a peanut butter crunch. It was SO GOOD.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Four to Eight – my husband even complimented me on such a good find. We’ll certainly be back!