For anybody interested in food and wine the Crowne Plaza London City hotel is a great choice. Use the subway and it takes all of three minutes to reach Blackfriars underground station. It’s a perfect venue for a drink with friends or a meal before heading to a theatre or home, or indeed early in the morning for breakfast before heading for the office.
The 204-bedroomed hotel is built upon the site where once stood Henry VIII’s palace of Bridewell, originally a palace built for Thomas Wolsley. Eating vast meals played an important role in the monarch’s life and so today food also plays an important role in the life of the hotel.
Three food and beverage outlets
In its walls are three food and beverage outlets – there is a late-licence cocktail bar Voltaire, the Chinese Cricket Club serving Sichuan food, and the Italian restaurant and wine bar Diciannove.
Blackfriars is a convenient meeting place for us and we had opted for an early lunch in Diciannove. I was the first to arrive; my friend’s train had been delayed. I was greeted warmly by Restaurant Manager Arnis Visnevskis who settled me at a table at the far end of somewhat formal-looking room part lined with banquettes, dark wood tables, big modern lights and an elegant display of wine bottles. A long bar covers almost the length of one wall.
Arnis and his colleagues Chiara and Greta looked after us wonderfully – that perfect blend of friendly informality coupled with impeccable service. On realising that my friend was running late Chiara offered to run down to the hotel lounge and find a newspaper for me to read. In fact, friend arrived a few minutes later so the only reading we did was the menu.
The food is deliciously Italian
The food is deliciously Italian and we loved the way the menu listed the region of Italy where the dishes came from.
But we opted for the two course Pronto menu – two courses and an espresso for £19.50. I had the fresh fried calamari whilst friend had the Buffalo mozzarella, with caponata and pistachio pesto (she generously gave me a piece of the mozzarella – soft, silky and delicious).
Main courses were the house-made tagliatelle with minced beef and pork ragout or the house-made pappardelle pasta with broad beans, peas and grana di pecora. We both chose the ragout – and agreed it was superb; clean bowls went back to the kitchen. The portions incidentally are generous. A glass of red wine each – £6. We plan on a return visit.
Breakfast 7 – 10:30; Pronto menu Monday to Friday, 12:00 – 14:30 and 18:00 – 19:00; there is also a full a la carte menu.
Special monthly menus include the Regional Gourmet Menus; a series of authentic menus inspired by the different regions of Italian cooking, or celebrate Italian festivals with a festival menu and live music with a jazz quartet. http://www.diciannove19.com/