After a long wait we finally made it to Paesan to sample some Italian small plate delights! This ‘tapas’ variant of eating is our favourite way to have dinner of late and Paesan got a lot of things right.
We went in a larger group than normal and had a reservation for 7:30pm that didn’t seem to be on their system, the only negative we could find if we are honest. Everyone was arriving at different points in the evening so we made use of the Bitters & Rye cocktail bar located downstairs. This is a late night bar (3am on Friday/Saturday) and have a selection of £5 cocktails until 8pm. After an Aperol Spritz or three, we made our way upstairs. We were greeted by friendly staff and sat down on a large table that held 10.
Chianti Colli Senesi Docg, Toscana 2012 was the wine of choice (an excellent choice might we add) while we made our way through the one page menu (if only everywhere did this!). Some freshly baked focaccia with oilve oil & aged balsamic arrived while we perused the menu and we found that there are quite a few antipasti options. Due to this we went with the mixed platter that had a little of everything. This included: wild boar mortadella, prosciutto di parma, pecorino toscano, sicilian olives and chargrilled artichokes. The two meats were excellent and I think we would lean to the wild boar just for the succulent nature of it, and it’s rarely seen on a menu. The pecorino was fantastically smokey, the artichokes cooked perfectly and the olives were very fresh. So fresh they were quite sharp but ultimately moreish.
Our small plate options were varied and included: arancini – lemon & courgette, bruschetta – pancetta, zucchini, mint & stracchino, polpo – octopus, new potatoes & spring onions, panzanella – heirloom tomato, red onion & bread salad and burrata with chargrilled aubergines & pane carasau. The arancini were cooked perfectly and maybe required a little more seasoning (personal taste), however the flavour combination was on point. The panzanella was a great summer dish. Different coloured tomatoes with red onions and bread all put together on a plate with an amazing dressing. This was light, fresh and finished far too quickly. The stars, however, were the bruschetta (pictured) and the burrata. It’s not often you see a combination of pancetta, zucchini, mint and stracchino (a soft cheese for those who don’t know) with bruschetta. They worked perfectly and if only there was more! The burrata was soft and totally indulgent. Coupled with the chargrilled aubergines and sweet pomegranate and Paesan are onto a clear winner.
Mains for the night were: orecchiette – nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa, hand cut pappardelle – braised rabbit & chanterelle, risotto – prawn & zucchini flower, tortelloni – spinach, ricotta with burnt butter & sage and roast pork belly – lentils, sofritto & salsa verde. Starting with the orecchiette, this was a great dish as we love us some nduja. It may have been on the creamy side but it didn’t stop us from eating the entire bowl clean. The rabbit pappardelle may have been slightly better than the orecchiette. Perfectly cooked rabbit with chanterelle mushrooms was delight on a plate. The prawn & zucchini risotto was the top main dish in our eyes. We don’t often go for risotto but the waitress spoke highly of it and we love us some zucchini flowers. The seasoning was perfect and the dish was balanced just right. Spinach & riccota tortelloni can be a boring affair however when it is coupled with burnt butter and sage, this dish was great. The hand-made tortelloni was very tasty too. On to the pork belly, again cooked perfectly and was teamed with lentils and an amazing salsa verde. Everyone was very happy!
To finish we opted for the tiramisu, some panna cotta and a few espressos. All of the desserts are made in-house and the tiramisu was the clear winner. Light and effortless, this was gone within a minute or so. Teamed with some fantastic coffee, we would happily come here for those two alone. The panna cotta was a tad runny but the flavours were awesome, no complaints at all! Once all was done and paid, we were offered some limoncello on the house. When we were in the cocktail bar we did see the bartender making the limoncello while he wasn’t serving anyone and it was lovely. All palette cleansers should be just like this.
There were next to no complaints with Paesan. Come with a group or come on a date, it caters for both perfectly. The staff are fantastic, the food brilliant and it’s not too hard on the wallet either.
2 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4PX