Mennula is an Italian restaurant with Sicilian roots, located in Charlotte Street just north of Oxford Street, a street brimming with restaurants and bars. It recently featured on TV (Gordon Ramsay’s best UK restaurants or something along those lines) and seemed to produce great food, so we thought we should pay them a visit.

And great food it was. The evening started with an unimpressive bread selection, which on the other hand was served with excellent Italian olive oil, while the starters of scallops with pancetta and lentils and buffalo mozarella with aubergine caviar and grilled courgettes were fresh tasting and mouthwatering. The mains were the highlight: a lamb shank with root vegetable puree and balsamic sauce was tender and packed full of strong flavours and the beef with mushrooms, winter truffle and celeriac mash was a great combination while still allowing the beef to shine through.

The deserts turned out to be the chef’s chance to display excellent customer service. While the chocolate cake with pistachio semi-fredo was the chocolate punch we expected, the traditional Sicilian cannoli (pastry filled with sweet ewe’s cheese) came out tasting not at all sweet, almost salty. However, the chef (who was in and out of the kitchen chatting to patrons often) noticed me shaking my head on the first bite of it, went to the kitchen, tried the filling himself and came out to apologise for it and to offer to bring me another one prepared just right! The second one really did taste much better and the chef’s effort was well appreciated.

Service on the whole was friendly if a little slow, the waiters seemed a bit rushed with a full house. The only other complaint would be the cramped space, as the place is quite small, resulting in small tables, uncomfortable sofas and feeling slightly crowded.

Overall, this restaurant has great food and a genuine desire to ensure customers leave fully satisfied. A more comfortable venue would probably make it that bit better for both customers and staff.