Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Buona Sera at the Jam - tree house dining at its finest

Being a total sucker for anything themed, or even just a bit kooky, I’d always been really intrigued by Buona Sera (at the Jam) on the King’s Road. Crammed into one of the KR’s typical tiny shop-spaces, is a restaurant of almost 20 tables for four, and a fully functional Italian kitchen – and the experience is anything but unpleasant! That’s because dining is split over two levels. Each table is its own wooden booth, and they are stacked, with the top booths reached via ladder – like your own personal tree house! So when the boy and I met up with two of his friends for dinner on the King’s Road over the weekend, and one friend requested a ‘fun Italian’, Buona Sera immediately sprang to mind. A word of warning however, this restaurant gets booked up, especially as everybody wants to dine in one the upper booths, and we had to wait until 9:30 to be able to eat. That said, we did ring up to book around Saturday lunchtime, and if you don’t mind soaking up the atmosphere from one of the lower booths, tables are fairly easy to come by.

What I did really like about this place, was the friendly customer service. Arriving bang on at 9:30, and starving, unfortunately our table wasn’t ready. The staff couldn’t have been more apologetic, explaining that a previous table had arrived very late for their booking and we were settled on a lower booth to make our order, and promised a free aperitif at the end of the meal. As soon as our table cleared, we were whisked up a level (TIP: do not attempt this in heels if you have spent the previous few hours at the pub, I was practically deposited via fireman’s lift, much to my party’s amusement!) and settled in our own little tree house. A great deal of thought has obviously been put into the design – despite all the furniture being made from wood, the booths were really comfortable, each has its own little set of dials to control lighting levels and the music volume, and they have decked the canopy with plants.

So what did we order?
I started with the garlic bread AND a delicious squid and tomato stew (Piggy I know, but as I mentioned, we’d been at the pub and I was ravenous!), followed by the miale pork (a kind of pork steak stroganoff). The garlic bread was a bit too garlicky, but I was impressed that the waitress immediately offered me a half-portion, seeing as I was ordering another starter, as a lot of restaurants are unwilling to halve their takings in this manner, let alone unprompted. The squid stew was also really tasty, but the piece de resistence was the miale. Another of our party ate this too and I think we were annoying the others in our raptures over the taste. It’s hearty, delicious and the sauce and balance of ingredients was just of the right consistency. At £14.90 for a very decent sized main course, it was really very impressive.

Amongst them, the other three ordered chicken wings (not very Italian, and actually whilst perfectly decent not especially amazing), and beef carpaccio (delicious, and as this arrived a few minutes after the others – I didn’t even notice the difference was so slight! – we were offered yet more Amaretto!) for starters. For mains, between us all we ordered two of the delicious miale, one traditional lasagne (pronounced “beautiful” by a very appreciative diner – it really is great when an Italian puts as much effort into getting the basics right as offering a broad and exciting range) and some spinach and ricotta cannelloni – also a real success.

Food and wine were flowing, and the final bill for two courses and drinks for four came to £90, including service, which I thought was incredibly reasonable. There were a few little glitches with timing the courses and getting us to our table in time, but they by no means ruined our evening, and the staff seemed more than eager to compensate for them, and were proactive about this too – we didn’t have to ask. Those free Amaretto’s to finish the meal were a perfect end, but as you can imagine, my exit from the restaurant was almost twice as graceless as my entrance. This place is unpretentious and great fun, perfect for enjoying hearty portions of great traditional Italian fare. Although, I have also been here on a date, and because you can adjust the lighting and have quite a lot of privacy, I wouldn’t rule it out for simple and quirky romance, either.

Buona Sera at the Jam
289A Kings Road, Chelsea

Photos my own

Buona Sera on Urbanspoon

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