Aren't Friday evenings wonderful?
After a busy week there's something divine about the whole weekend stretching ahead, filled with good things and lovely people. I love my weekends, whether they involve travel, nights out or simply curling up with a cat and a boxset, and Friday night is always a lovely start to proceedings. For the first few years of my teaching career I didn't get to embrace Fridays in quite the same way, as I always worked Saturday mornings (boarding school, man)....ever since I left that phase I like to think I embrace Friday evening's loveliness with even more enthusiasm!
Last Friday, I got to got for dinner with three of my faves, Erica, Katy and Ashleigh. We were invited along to Strada to sample their menu and to experience their refurbished Panton Street location. A hop, skip and jump from Piccadilly Circus, I loved how easy it was to get to, even though we were coming from (quite literally) four different directions across the city. Italian food is my utter favourite so I was looking forward to a pleasant evening of yummy food and hilarious conversation.
We all arrived at around 6 and were greeted with wide smiles and glasses of prosecco. Always a good start! The team set us up in a cosy banquette in the main room, perfect for seeing all the goings-on (and spying on our fellow diners for inspiration).
We had calamari, mushroom bruschetta, arancini, and my favourite option, a wonderful caprese salad, which added griddled avocado to the traditional tomato, mozarella & basil. I adored this addition - the creaminess of the avocado complemented the freshness of the tomatoes beautifully!
We shared these starters as a quartet and tucked in while catching up on another busy week.
For our mains we ordered separately, and like the good food bloggers we are we even went for four different dishes to cover as much of the menu as poss.
Erica's excitement was tangible. And photographable.
Ashleigh went for the chicken & mushrooms. I'd actually tried this at Strada Stratford a couple of weeks ago, so I can vouch for it's deliciousness! Creamy sauce, moist, tender chicken, and the most delicious little new potatoes roasted with rosemary, all topped with rocket.
On our wonderful server's recommendation, Katy chose the pumpkin ravioli. That crumbled yumminess on top? Amaretti biscuits! This was lucious, silky pasta at its best, served in a rich sage butter which worked brilliantly with the sweet crunch of the biscuits. I'll be nicking that idea for a recipe soon!
I chose the goat's cheese salad, because I am a choosing genius. This was really excellent - the greens were fresh and tasty, and the segments of orange brought a real citrus tang to proceedings. Beetroot and butternut squash were added to the mix, making this a really satisfying plate, full of colour and different flavours. Great cheese, too - and plenty of it!
While we ate our food we enjoyed these wines - a rich, chocolatey Aglianico for Ashleigh and Katy, a soft and fruity Vermentino for Erica and me. We attempted puddings (cheesecake, tart, sorbet), but by then even we were bested and failed to finish our servings - as delicious as the offerings were there was simply no more room at the inn!
A quick note on the service at Strada: it was brilliant. Now, I'm aware as we were there as guests of the brand, so we might be treated differently. But here's the thing - as lovely as our service was (and it really was - attentive, knowledgeable staff; quick, speedy service), when I'm reviewing a place for service that's not what I watch. I watch the tables around us, and that lovely banquette I mentioned above? Was the perfect vantage point from which to do so. I was delighted to see that everyone was receiving great service - glasses topped up, requests fulfilled quickly, food delivered swiftly. I was really impressed!
Thank you so much to Strada for a fantastic meal, and to Erica for inviting me along. What a cracking start to the weekend!