Words: Jemima Wilson
There is no shortage of exceptional restaurants in Mayfair, however, those with a cosy, neighbourhood feel can be tricky to find. Thankfully, tucked away on Curzon Street,I Robert, owned by the Novikov Group, is a departure from other, typically extravagant dining establishments in the area, and, stepping into the restaurant, the friendly, convivial atmosphere is the first thing to note. The exposed brickwork, chalkboards and hanging hams and salamis above the small but well-stocked bar exude all the rustic charm you’d expect of a local trattoria.
Rustic also is the menu, as hearty, home-cooked Mediterranean food is the speciality here, with Veneto-born chef Michele Granziera, formerly of Belgravia’s Zafferano, presiding over the kitchen. The dinner menu has something to please all palates, and the signature starter of Gallega octopus with chorizo and green sauce is well worth a try, as is the burrata with tomatoes and basil – a simple classic done superbly well.
Moving on to the main, there is a well-considered choice of meat and fish dishes, a particular highlight being the lemon sole with capers and lemon – beautifully cooked and full of delicate flavour. However, I Robert’s real forte is pasta, all freshly made each day and rolled by hand. The slightly rougher texture of the handmade pasta holds the sauce, giving dishes such as the tagliolini with rabbit ragouta particularly rich, authentic taste.
It’s well worth saving room for dessert, too, as, while not overly adventurous, the sweet selection includes a delectably smooth crème brulée and an indulgent cheesecake, both sure to see you leave more than satisfied at the end of your meal.
In addition to the main menus, Spanish charcuterie and cheese plates are served all day, and come with bread, olives and a small carafe of wine.The wine list itself is comprehensive, but, if your favourite is not on it, fear not, as – thanks to a partnership with a nearby cellar – the staff will see your preference is with you in a mere 10 minutes.
I Robert was named after a piece by renowned animal artist Kate Boxer, an image of which serves as the restaurant’s logo. Art is a focal point of it quirky interior, which features original works by contemporary talents Tsuzuki Mayumi and Séamus Connolly.
The combination of traditional fare, quaint surroundings and excellent value make I Robert ideal for all manner of occasions, whether a casual business lunch or a more intimate dinner date.