Since moving to London I had been hearing about Padella. The place that doesn’t take reservations. The place you have to queue for a seat. The place you could be waiting for over 30 minutes to get in. The place the pasta is amazing and the place, that for pasta that good, you queue.
So when my girlfriend said that a few of her girls and their boyfriends were heading there, I was up for giving it a try. But it seemed the rest of the boyfriends weren’t up for pasta as much as me. Suddenly the couples night turned into a girls night and I was the last man standing.
I was now in for a dinner filled with talk about engagements, weddings, baby planning, new homes and no chance of talking about predictions for the Premier League results for that weekend. So here was to hoping that this pasta was as good as I had heard.
Padella is the second venture from Jordan Frieda and Tim Siadatan that owns Trullo over in Islington. Though whereas Trullo, another Italian offering, has a menu and venue designed for a longer stay. Padella is all about simple fresh pasta dishes, that don’t take long to bring to the table or to eat.
It is this method that allows for seating to be on a first come, first served basis. We arrived at 5.10pm and there were already queues (the venue opens at 5pm). I hate queuing, probably more than anything, but I also love pasta. So I stood in the queue.
Luckily the queue wasn’t that long and we were inside, taken downstairs to a table for six. That’s five women and one male (me). Which, in the land of teenage fantasies, sounds great, but in the land of 30+ realities, it meant wedding talk.
So as they talked weddings, I tried to narrow down what to order off a menu where I wanted it all. I was unable to choose just one but instead convinced my girlfriend to share some Gnocchi, while I went for “Pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu” as the main dish.
As the food arrived, my conversation had been limited to ordering what I wanted and keeping my mouth busy with the bread and burrata. Though now was my chance, to say even less and eat the plates of pasta laid out in front of me. This dinner had started to become a teenage fantasy.
I started on the Gnocchi. This was the side dish, but I like to pleasure delay. So the main could wait a little longer and it was a very good start. This plate was the definition of brilliance in simplicity. Why do you need to overpower the taste of great pasta, with more than simple nutmeg butter? The answer is, you don’t.
“Pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu” tasted as good as it sounded. Every piece of pasta tasted better than the last. The slow-cooked beef ragu clung to the folding bands of pasta, adding a powerful flavour to pasta that would have tasted great with just parmesan.
While I concentrated on Dexter beef, the conversation circled around engagement, proposals, wedding plans, but suddenly this really became the thing of teenage fantasies. Forks start getting put down, they start saying they can’t eat anymore, they start offering up the rest of it to the only male at the table! That’s ME!
This meant getting a taste of the “Pici cacio & pepe”, the Tuscan dish also known as a Posh Mac N Cheese. A little bit different from my Mother’s Mac & Cheese, it was still just as good as her homemade delight! I also got to taste the Tagliarini and discovered that any type of pasta Padella wants to do, they do it well! If pasta is life, Padella is the life giver!
We couldn’t finish this trip to Italy in Borough Market without giving my sweet tooth something. So we went for both the Salted caramel ice cream and Chocolate tart to share. At £4 for each dessert, buying two is almost like buying one at most London restaurants. So when you mix the ice cream with the tart, you feel like you are getting a great deal. If pasta gave life, then the dessert killed you and sent you to heaven.
The conversation that Friday was not what every man would want, but the pasta was. So if your girlfriend ever invites you on a girls night to Padella, you go and keep your fingers crossed they let you sit in silence and eat their unfinished plates of pasta!