Where: Ask Italian, Bromley London
When: A summer midweek evening (June 2013)
Why: We hungry
Having used the Tastecard app to locate a restaurant in Nunhead (for it’s random properties) my sister, 3-year-old niece and I embarked on a fruitless journey around a deserted high street. Having a little-un in tow meant that our pilgrimage was thankfully cut short as we finally decided to jump ship and return to the familiar pastures of Bromley.
Skipping out of the car we made our way to Ask, located on the same high street as Zizzi’s and Nandos. Its proximity to such firm culinary favourites seemed to stem the flow of potential costumers, however the mid week lull was a welcome addition to what had been a testing day (three year olds can be demonic).
The Bromley branch of Ask restaurant is a gloriously spacious and bright affair. The expansive floor space allows a good amount of distance between diners and allows the stylistic décor to be appreciated. The walls are adorned with a plethora of ornate kitchen utensils that give way to the completely open kitchen area that permits diners to menacingly stare at the chef until he gets the point and hurries the hell up. Decorated with a palette of calming pastels the walls angle out into a large al fresco area that is gorgeous when the sun sets.
To begin I ordered the Calamari to test the skills of the chef. I find that calamari can either be deliciously textured with the softness of the squid contrasting the crisp, light batter or it can be horrifically rubbery like a tyre doused in oil. My starter was however, cooked to absolute perfection. The squid was juicy and fresh while the batter had the perfect amount of oil. Served with the customary lemon wedge and mayonnaise, the portion was very generous and extremely moreish. Regardless, I still managed to help my sister finish her garlic tiger prawns which were similarly delicious and served at the optimum temperature.
I was understandably elated to try my main and waited for what felt like an eternity for it to arrive. I had chosen the seafood Frutti Mare linguine as I hadn’t eaten any fish (rich in Omega 3 and Vitamin D) in a while. Here comes the sour point. I found the course decidedly average compared to the starter. I added salt to the meal (which I normally avoid) and drenched the bland pasta in olive oil. The tomato sauce, diluting the overall dish, overpowered the delicate flavours of the mussels and prawns. Although the main was beautifully presented with premium ingredients I couldn’t full enjoy it. My sister’s main of Manzo Rigatoni was nicely done, however the portion size was a little on the petite side.
While the adults grumbled, my niece happily chomped away on a lovely starter of cucumber and carrot sticks with a thousand island dip and crispy flat bread followed by a steaming bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. Kids can enjoy a three-course meal with a drink included for just £5.95 which is incredible for such a lovely restaurant.
As we contemplated dessert I couldn’t help but notice that the average age of most costumers was well over 55. This is no bad thing; elderly people are lovely and make very pleasant diners. I’m not entirely sure why the restaurant attracts such a mature clientele, however it did give the restaurant a nice homely atmosphere where the volume stayed at a good level and the mood felt completely relaxed.
I completed my Ask adventure with an almond crumble with a scoop of vanilla gelato. This course redeemed the main owing to its gorgeous texture and perfect amount of sweetness. The smooth, warm dessert was so easy to demolish and I could have eaten another straight away.
My sister opted for the Plum pistachio pie which was in her words, divine. Next time I may just order three of these back to back. It was an incredibly surprising dish that presented a moist warm sponge infused with hints of cinnamon and contrasted with the sharp sticky sweetness of the caramelised plums.
Overall the restaurant experience couldn’t have been better. The staff were extremely friendly and very accommodating to all our requests. I was granted an unholy amount of Parmesan cheese and didn’t get any funny looks when I requested a smaller spoon to eat my dessert with. My restless niece was given an additional chocolate milk free of charge and our waitress was lovely. Whilst I can’t wait to eat here again, I may stick with a trusty calzone in terms of the main.