Cotidie, meaning ‘everyday’ in Italian, is a brainchild of Chef Bruno Barbieri, who is a much respected chef in Italy as he not only appears on Masterchef (there) but is also a possessor of two Michelin stars, respectively at Il Trigabolo in Argenta and Arquade in Verona, neither of which I have been. Taking over the former site of Cafe Luc on Marylebone High Street, Barbieri launches a comfortingly imaginative Italian menu in a genteel bistro-like surrounding. The majority of fresh produce is imported from the chef’s homeland. While the sun did not shine bright outside Cotidie, my well-heeled dining companion and I found ourselves cheered up by the relatively eager, relatively handsome FOH. Friendly Italian hospitality, you know. Nothing more..
The meal did not have much sparkles but was thoroughly pleasant. Like most Italian places, the menu consisted of small(ish) appetisers, pasta, fish/meat, side sections. The respective price for each section was £9-13, £15-17, £15-29, and £4.50. There was also a 6-course tasting menu at £65. Before my appetisers were a decent selection of cured meat – tongue-like piece, mortadella and fatty saucission with a lovely chervil garnish and a correctly prepared polenta soup. Scrambled eggs with hazelnuts and gorgonzola fondue (£9) arrived in cracked egg shells. The egg was pleasantly seasoned with a touch of sweet nutty-ness, but the texture could have been more scrumble-y rather than curd-y; the gorgonzola was mild. An enjoyable dish, nonetheless. Beef tartare served with Taleggio cheese and pistachio fondue (£13) intrigued me (in a good way). The finely chopped beef was cured in spices and oozed magical chacouterie-like robustness but with a tenderised tartare texture. The subtly salty cheese was thick rendering pungent creaminess, which complimented the beef well. (That said, at this stage, I became tired of the chervil garnish). ‘Fregula’ pasta with shellfish and tumeric stew (£16) was also prepared with care and understated flair. The ‘fregula’ themselves had a great bouncy texture. Having been cooked in seawater, its flavour was naturally enhanced and sprang alive with perfectly cooked shellfish trimmings – prawns, mussels, cockles, calamari. (The dish also came with a sprig of chervil). Tortellini in capon broth (£16) arrived nude. (Did the kitchen forget the chervil!?) The tortellini were freshly prepared and boast not only the precision in the making but a fluffy filling of capon meat. The broth was capon-made, bouillon-like but very light. Together it had a great clarity of flavours and addictive lightness. The mains were underwhelming, once compared to what preceded them. Stewed octopus in tomatoes and capers (£24) claimed umami richness and sweet sun-kissed acidity. It was a pity that the corn cream on which the octopus submerged was heftily salted, otherwise it would be a very good dish that nowhere else in London serves. (The chervil garnish metamorphosed into a mini bouquet of shoots). Braised vegetable with Piadina flatbread (£15) was that kind of dish that made me feel sorry for vegetarians. Though everything on my plate was nicely prepared, it appeared as if a result of two side dishes being thrown into one and with nothing to bind all together. Fried beignets (£10) restored joy. The beignets were cream-filled and light, contrasting well with the citrus-y caramelisation of orange rinds. The petit four was a sight to behold, though I was too stuffed to treat myself with many.
There were some highs and some (not so) lows at Cotidie. Also, when we informed the FOH of the over-salted main, we were offered complimentary sweet wine as a compensatory gesture. Towards the end of the meal, I warmed to the place. The cooking, in general, has a character; many dishes I ate are addictive food I don’t mind having everyday; and given time, Cotidie can progress into something exciting. So, I will be back.
(But, before that, please garnish with chervil when you really, seriously need to).
50 Marylebone High Street
Tel. 020 7258 9878