Thursday, 6 May 2010

Princi - a first bite

Every time I walk past Princi it’s buzzing. Seriously, there’s never a spare seat. I’ve been looking longingly at those beckoning, bread-laden counters for some time now, but I always end up deciding to go somewhere a little less busy. And then, one afternoon, passing by, I glanced in through the window and realized that there were spaces, there were empty chairs calling out to me: “come in, sit down, eat cake.” How could I refuse?

Princi is a little bit of Milan transplanted to Wardour Street - with a little help from Alan Yau (he of Wagamama, Hakkasan, Yauatcha and so forth). This is the first London branch of an established Milanese bakery. It’s a shiny and sleek space full of polished copper, marble and granite; there’s even a water feature - which wasn’t actually working, because this is London after all. In the middle of the room there’s a large communal table and, at the back, there’s a bar where you can order drinks; several people were standing at the bar, necking their espressos in true Italian fashion.

All of this is of course secondary to the long counter that dominates one side of the room, filled with pastries, cakes and cookies, plump eclairs, cinematic strawberry tarts, and oh, oh, oh, are those cannoli? I love cannoli. There are savoury things too. Some heavenly looking bread, a variety of pizza slices, and salads. It’s hard to know where to start. There were at least ten things I wanted to try but dinner was not that far away and in the end I opted for a slab of the pear and chocolate cake (a favourite combination). I also ordered a cappuccino; it’s self service so I paid at the cake counter and then took my receipt over to the bar to get my coffee.

The cake was perfectly good afternoon coffee fodder, slightly bready and rather more about the chocolate than the pear. It was not dissimilar from something I make at home and a bit over-priced at £3.20 (I’ve read that prices have been hiked since opening - is this correct?). The coffee was smooth, airy and light, a potent reminder of how inadequate most London cappuccinos are.

I timed my visit well and had only just taken my seat when the place suddenly swelled with people. Where did they come from? They just seemed to appear. The noise levels shot up too and I didn’t feel inclined to linger, but I suspect I will be lured back by the thought of those cannoli – provided I can find a free seat.

Princi on Urbanspoon

Princi, 135 Wardour St, London W1F 0UT (020) 7478 8888

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