We enter Bancone's Golden Square outpost on Lower James Street, welcomed by the restaurant's exposed brick wall design and a modern colour palette. A huge olive tree takes centre stage and is surrounded by a wooden counter for guests to enjoy their meal or have a post-work drink. We are shown to our booth and introduced to the new menu, which, true to Waugh's description, features seasonal ingredients like tomatoes and lemon in the antipasti, punchy flavours that brighten up the pasta dishes, and citrus-forward desserts.
After a refreshing glass of Prosecco, we start things off with the anything-but-boring kale salad, which is topped with a texture-rich mixture of soft egg, lemon, and bottarga—it's moreish, light, and the perfect antipasto. My dinner partner was pregnant then, so we had our order of fried polenta chips sans gorgonzola, but this didn't stop the team from loading it up with some grated cheese to bring the whole dish together. For our pasta course, I opted for the pappardelle paired with a braised ox cheek. This extremely comforting dish is prevented from going into winter food territory by the splash of Barolo vinegar in the sauce. My guest chose the rigatoni, which was 100% plant-based with salt-baked celeriac, almonds, and lemon. This dish was perhaps the best representation of the Bancone I love—unique, creative, and delicious. It introduced flavour combinations I was unfamiliar with and played beautifully with different textures, and mouth feels, making every bite exciting. Our meal ended with a velvety slice of chocolate cake topped with lime zest and served with mascarpone and a delightful praline cannoli stuffed with crystallised hazelnuts.
London has an abundance of pasta restaurants nowadays, but Bancone has found the right recipe for crowd favourites that will make you come back for more and new pilots that always keep you guessing. Though it was my guest's first time at the restaurant, she said it's added to her top restaurant list and one she couldn't wait to introduce more friends too. "It is always tough to change the classics, but it takes time. The key is not to overhaul the menu in one go and keep the regulars on the side," explains Waugh. "It's a balance, though—evolution has to happen, or guests will get bored, and so will the teams."
Bancone Golden Square
Address: 8-10 Lower James St, London W1F 9EL
Phone: 020 3034 0820