August 25th, 2015
On Tuesday evening, Camilla took me to the soft opening of Vico, a new restaurant from Bocca di Lupo owners, Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo. Vico stands on the corner of Cambridge Circus, opposite the Palace Theatre.
As one enters Vico, there’s a bar to the right and a seperate Gelupo counter selling artisanal ice cream on the left.
Food and drink is sold at the bar – the theme being fast, affordable, Italian street food, such as arancini and pizza by the slice. Arancini are stuffed bread crumbed Sicilian rice balls or “little oranges” because of their orange colour when they come out of the deep fryer. Common fillings for arancini are meat in tomato sauce, béchamel, mushrooms, aubergine, etc. A similar style of Italian rice balls come from Lazio, these are called supplì.
The formula is very simple and the proprietors believe that by buying in bulk they can keep the quality high and the prices down. You will see (above) that food is served by weight – it costs £3 per 100g and drink is served by the carafe or glass at £3.50. Customers choose their food and it’s all weighed together on a steel tray. I am in no way comparing the food here to McDonald’s, but for an equivalent food weight comparison, a McDonald’s Cheeseburger weighs about 110g.
All the food was exceptional. The darker of the two arancini (above) contained a squid ink risotto which was so good we had to have more. Inside the risotto were pieces of the most perfectly tender cooked squid I’ve ever eaten.
a beautifully tender rabbit salad
and a delicious melt in the mouth mushroom pizza.
Tray 3 …well the food was free and so good it would have been a shame not to try as much as possible! The pizza this time was anchovy, black pepper and finely grated Parmesan. All the pizzas had a perfect crispy base and were so much better than the soggy offerings on the high street.
In the centre of the tray was a perfect piece of fried salt cod. Food writer Jane Grigson recommends lightly salting white fish an hour or so before cooking – this firms up the flesh and I believe the same happens with salt cod, even though it is soaked in water to reconstitute it. In my humble opinion, deep fried salt cod has a better texture than fresh fried cod.
At the end of the evening, a waitress came round with a tray full of sweet arancini balls on long sticks, dusted with icing sugar. They had the sweet smell of freshly cooked doughnuts and contained chestnuts …or walnuts.
Jacob Kenedy worked very hard all night, charming guests and critics alike. Above he can be seen helping out with service behind the bar. The food was outstanding – if this is the future of fast food, the high street chains could be in big trouble!
Wine is unbranded and comes by the carafe – I drank quite a bit with my supper and the red was excellent.
Vico is at: 1 Cambridge Circus, London, WC1H 8HD
Vico is now closed and Jacob Kenedy is concentrating on his new venue, The Plaquemine Lock.