Thursday, November 13, 2008
9. Italy, southern: Buon Appetito
171 London Road,
Some of the best things in life are things you just stumble upon by mistake. One such happy surprise was our visit to Buon Appetito. The Blim was away so Badgerman and I decided to meet in Burgess Hill for dinner and add to our Sussex Ethnic Eats finds. We arrived at Buon Appetito about 7:15; there were already two parties of two in this small (about 40 covers) restaurant. The décor is smart and understated and the welcome was very hospitable and friendly.
We ordered drinks: a glass of house red for Badgerman and sparkling water for me that turned out to be the excellent San Beniditto brand. We perused the superbly varied menu, with over 80 main course choices priced from £6.95 for pasta and pizza dishes to £15.95 for rack of lamb, and were flummoxed so we asked for advice. We were directed to the interesting looking specials, Badgerman chose the Patate e Anatra Croccante- baked potatoes and duck with olive oil garlic and butter (£6.95) and I opted for the Avocado Biancaneve- baked avocado and prawns with béchamel sauce and parmesan (£5.95). There is a very good range of vegatarian and non-vegetarian starters priced from £1.95 for the house garlic bread to £7.25 for Gamberoni Al Limone: king prawns cooked with white wine and lemon sauce. For our mains Badgerman selected Penne alla Siciliana- Penne with pepperoni, mixed roasted peppers chilli and tomato sauce (£6.95) and I chose Tagliatelle Allo Scoglio: Pasta cooked with a fresh selection of seafood, cherry tomatoes and tomato sauce (£7.95). Our drinks arrived promptly and I tucked into the package of very thin, crispy breadsticks and watched all the wonderfully presented dishes go by to the two other tables. Our starters arrived and we were very pleased with both our selections. My avocado dish, pictured above, was just delicious. The avocado was perfectly ripe and the prawns very flavoursome. The plentiful béchamel sauce was smooth and delicate with just a hint of nutmeg. I sent my compliments to the chef. I think that it takes real confidence to present such a simple dish knowing that it could stand alongside dishes with more complicated flavours and construction. Badgerman’s duck (right)was artfully presented and looked far more elegant that the plain, honest menu description. He really enjoyed all elements especially the succulent duck slices.
Around 8:00 p.m. the restaurant was filling up with four more tables arriving, one of them a larger party. There were also a couple of take away orders and a Christmas booking; this seemed quite busy for a Wednesday in early November. All customers, some of whom were greeted by name, received the same great service and attention as we did. After our starter we were actually asked to let the house know when we wanted our main course!
When our main courses arrived they did not disappoint. Our respective pastas were cooked al dente with enough but not too much sauce. Badgerman’s penne was spicy hot and tasty with the heat not obliterating the other flavours. My tagliatelle was delicious- every mouthful was great. I often order seafood pasta and am usually disappointed by the quality and quantity of the seafood that is included- but not this time. There were plenty of clams, mussels, prawns and squid to last until the final twirl of the very fine pasta. Both dishes were very well presented in chic, slanted bowls. I also ordered a mixed salad that was dressed for me at the table. It was very fresh and crunchy, though had just a little too much onion for my tastes.
We were too full to partake in desserts all around £4.50, but the ones being served to other customers looked home-made and quite yummy! Our de-caff coffee arrived with a little biscotti, was very good and really hot.
We congratulated ourselves on finding this gem of a restaurant and happily paid our bill for £44.50 excluding tip.
Food Presentation: 4
Food Quality: 4
Value for money: 2
There is also a sister Buon Appetito restaurant at: 81 Western Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2JQ 01273 204444.