So last Sunday was a foodie day of epic proportions. Brunch at Chiltern Firehouse followed by afternoon tea at the Connaught with my mates, culminating with a family dinner… at our local Prezzo on Hertford Street!
Truth is, I’ve been coming here ever since school days when it was known as Jonathan’s, named after Prezzo’s founder Jonathan Kaye.
There may now be over 200 branches across Great Britain, but this particular one is definitely a neighbourhood gem, tucked away behind the bustle of Park Lane. It’s one that feels more like a family-run Italian than just another outpost of a ubiquitous high-street chain…
For a start, there’s the fact that the restaurant is housed in a historic site. It’s where Lancelot “Capability” Brown, the esteemed English landscape architect, passed away over 230 years ago. His legacy lives on though – many of the 170+ parks that he designed, can still be found across the country today!
Then there are the interiors – warm, wooden with plenty of cosy corners and art inspired by the works of the late nineteenth/ early twentieth century English painter, Walter Dendy Sadler.
For me, it’s the service and the overall attitude of the management that are of prime importance too and this is where Prezzo Hertford Street really stands out.
At the helm of the restaurant’s operations is Agnieszka Kite – she’s been working within this site even before Jonathan’s/ Prezzo’s took over, back when it used to be an old-school fish restaurant.
Today she runs the show with formidable efficiency, while bringing to the place an air of familiarity and character.
She’s someone who’s essentially seen me grow up and knows the in’s and out’s of my parent’s eating habits, as is likely the case with all her regulars. So much so that much to my family’s delight, she’s promised to try and bring back Prezzo’s famous gnocchi gorgonzola after it was removed from the menu!
As a food blogger, I have to confess that I don’t have the luxury of eating at the same restaurant too often and so I don’t visit this Prezzo as often as I used to back in the day… which is why I was so pleased to see that things hadn’t changed all that much when I dropped in with my parents last Sunday.
I think what draws a lot of people back here is that at the heart, it’s all about comfort food.
There’s much to love in classic dishes such as bruschetta drizzled lovingly with burrata and pesto; baked mushrooms stuffed with grana padano, mozzarella cheese and breadcrumbs; and wholesome pastas – the kitchen at Hertford Street really know how to make an extra-fiery arrabbiata to appeal to my parents’ taste for the spicy!
As for the cocktails, an Aperol Spritz is always spot on too!
And no matter how full I am, I can still find room to plump for dessert. The chocolate hazelnut cheesecake – smooth vanilla rippled with a rich hazelnut ganache with a Ferrero Rocher on top – is just the treat it promises to be.
And of course there’s the banana and nutella calzone. Wrapped in thick salted bread dough, it strikes a great balance between sweet and savoury revealing a gush of rich chocolate with each cut…
Needless to say, we always have a lovely evening here and hopefully I won’t leave it till as long before my next visit back.
Do you have any favourites among London’s many high street eateries? Do share in the comments below!
Prezzo, 17 Hertford St, London W1J 7RS