I'm adding, alongside Roast and Rabot 1745 in Borough Market, a new restaurant to my roster of places I'd recommend in London for a real blow out, celebration meal: the newly refurbished Toto's in Knightsbridge. When I was invited along for lunch I arranged to visit with my school friend Eddie, a something a little special for us both as we had not caught up in ages. And, it is always nice to dine with someone who you used to eat practically every single meal with, because it is then perfectly acceptable to share dishes and try a bit of absolutely everything on the table, regardless of if it is from your own order or not!
We took out seats in the beautiful dining room to peruse the menu, along with a few nibbles for the table (I loved the build your own salsa crostini) and some aperitifo. We both opted for their special; Blood Orange Juice with Campari, a favourite of both of ours. They refreshing and well balanced; a perfect start to the meal. (You can find my post on how to make this classic cocktail, with regular orange juice here!)
I was a massive fan of the bread basket stacked full of everything you could think of to start your meal, from classic white and browns, to breadsticks and wafer thin Italian bread. My personal favourite, though, which I think I was a little bit guilty of hogging, was the focaccia with rosemary and cherry tomatoes. I was addicted.
It turned out that we were both after the same starters (pan fried scallops with cauliflower purée and crispy pancetta, and the tagliolini with lobster, sweet chili and cherry tomatoes) so we decided to share them both. Kicking off with the scallops, we could not find anything wrong with them; delicate, tender and with a wonderfully intensely flavoured cauliflower puree. And just look at that beautiful presentation.
The Tagliolini was one of my favourite dishes from the whole meal. You can order any of the pasta dishes as a main course too, and it is something I'd really recommend. The pasta was perfectly cooled and full of flavour, and they by no means skimped on the amount of lobster on the plate. Toto's is not a place where you'll ever feel short changed. All of our portions were generous. And, as I said, just look at the bread basket!
After our plated had been cleared away, we let the sommelier select us a deliciously crisp, medium (not too dry and not too fruity) Sicilian white to pair with our choice of mains. Honestly, while usually I prefer to take a look and the wine list and make the selection myself, at Toto's I'd honestly let the sommelier choose again.
I had serious order envy of Eddie's order: free range baby chicken, caponata of vegetables and a diavola sauce from the grill section of the menu. Just look at it! Is that not one of the most photogenic chickens you've ever seen?! And, it tasted so much better than it looked, if that was even possible. The meat was stupidly tender, and was infused with the most delicious smokiness. If you visit Toto's for lunch, order this. That's an order.
I ordered the Veal Schnitzel, a favourite of mine. Again it was impossibly tender, and could not be faulted. While we were on the A La Carte menu, Toto's offers a much more affordable lunch menu, which this dish is a part of. At £19.50 for two courses, and £24.50 for three, I'm not sure you could find a more reasonable offering in the area for white table cloth dining away from all the tourists.
Alongside my veal came the best thing, hands down I ate at Toto's. They may look like chips, but what these little rods of potato perfection actually are, are layer upon wafer thin layer of potato, layered up with rosemary and cut into a chip before being crisped up beautifully, and dusted with sea salt. The best thing I have eaten this year so far. These potatoes are reason alone to eat here.
For dessert, we decided to reverse gender stereotypes; me by ordering the classic 'man's dessert' of a lemon panna cotta, and Eddie by ordering the 'ladies' tiramisu. I don't like coffee so all I can tell you is that he really enjoyed it, and that the bite I stole of the praline wafer it came decorated with was very more-ish. This tiramisu also comes as part of the set lunch menu.
I was simply blown away by my panna cotta. Ordering a lemon panna cotta, I expected the rich cream to simply be infused with the flavour of lemon from its rind, but it was so lemony and indulgent that I'm convinced lemon curd was the answer. The presentation on the plate with the little broken pieces of another praline wafer and a beautiful piece of sugar work were lovely enough, the scoop of raspberry sorbet that came alongside was more than just a pleasant surprise. I wish I could make sorbet with such a strong, clean flavour like that.
For your next special occasion, I urge you to book a table at Toto's. Our lunch was the first lunch review I've written this year, (and I can't actually remember when the last was) where I could not find a single thing to fault. Even the service was absolutely seamless. When clumsy old me dropped my fork, I'd barley stooped to pick it up when our waiter had already spotted my mishap and fetched me over a clean one. While I admit it is pricy, I promise you that you won't regret booking a table!