Peasant food may not be the first thing you fancy when you are on your way out to dinner but if you’ve been following the trend, you’ll know there are no limits to how amazing this Italian ‘poor’ cooking can be. New to the ever-growing peasant food scene is Paesan, brainchild of Anthony Brown of Pasta Brown fame in Covent Garden. Taking up the large curved spot at the bottom of Exmouth market, this place has got its work cut out for it being among a number of popular restaurants, but it has plenty of promise.
On first impressions the décor is strikingly industrial: wine was served in old tomato tins, bear steel coats the walls and furniture, the menus were on butcher’s paper and everything was sandpapered to within an inch of its life. If you didn’t know this was peasant chic, you do now. The menu is reasonably simple, featuring pasta, pizza and a few meat and fish dishes.
Nothing is above £12, which makes a p(l)easant change from the rising prices of budget dinners (aren’t we in a recession?!). The menu features a Napolese classic pizza fritta (yes, fried pizza), that isn’t often seen on these shores. It’s smothered with delicious taleggio and mushroom. We also tried the Sicilian sausage with lentils – stacked high to almost daunting proportions. What it lacked in flavour (and sadly there was little depth) it made up for in its value.
Paesan is a considerable size and the menu is accessible and relaxed enough to draw a crowd. There is also an extensive cocktail bar downstairs with cosy seating under archways: easy to imagine the Islington crowd taking to this bar on a weekend. Whilst it may not be a culinary revolution, this place isn’t bad and could make a good port of call to while away the hours finding your way through the cocktail menu or the upmarket peasant sharing food they have on offer. (Words: Laura Thornley)
For more info, visit: www.paesanlondon.com