I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s OK to visit a restaurant even when the fanfare’s died down. It’s easy to get caught up in the explosion of new openings. But, it’s also telling visit some time into a restaurants tenure, to see whether the pressure to increase profitability has meant the owners have cut corners. We visited Rotorino almost a year after it’s opening – so, a chance to test out if this place is keeping up it’s launch hype.
Offset from Kingsland Road by a row of parked cars and next to a chippie, Rotorino is unassuming from the outside. The exterior is sparse, brick walls and blinded windows, while a bright sign spells out the name in neon pink outline. Enter and you’re in a cozy, somewhat opulent world of copper fittings, more brick, dark lighting and “served-with-an-edge-of-cool” staff. Is this Dalston, or have we entered a porthole to the west-end? We got our bearings: this is Dalston, but it’s new Dalston, polished Dalston. Nothing wrong with that per-say, but surely not the hole in the wall Turkish, Afghan and Indian eateries we are more accustomed too this far up Kingsland Road.
On glancing the menu we’re impressed to see some of our Sicilian favourites appear: Panelle (a chickpea pancake) and Caponata (a rich stew of aubergine, tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts), both served as starters. We were transported back to a hot summers night in Palermo. The menu takes a slight detour to samphire and cold meat platters, then a selection of fried and grilled veg in a small plates section. Pastas’ follow, then meaty and fishy third courses, served with sides.
We combined first and third courses with sides and shared the lot between four. The food arrived quickly. Obviously, we chose the Panelle and the Caponata, both guzzled down quickly and of a good standard. We also chose the singular veg main, La Fritella, a gorgeous mix of broad beans, artichokes and peas in a tasty, light broth and topped with parmesan. The trotollini peppers stuffed with ricotta and chilli, were fun. The stuffed courgette flower supposedly had an anchovy accent, which we couldn’t detect. I prefer mint, both for the flavour and the veg friendliness. The fish-eaters on the table had the mussels, which were of a good size but slightly over-cooked in their otherwise fragrant sauce. The mussels went well with the tomato and salsify, though that combination re-appeared in a lentil, tomato and salsify side dish, which though interesting, didn’t seem like it was sure whether it was a hearty, stew-like side or a fresher, lighter alternative. That didn’t kill it, just made it a little indistinct.
Rotorino still has its impact: the space and overall service possesses an element of finesse. The food, solid, though perhaps losing some of it’s shine; not that I’ve a personal comparison of its launch offering, I’m just, so to say, believing the hype.
We Veg-Tested @Rotorino #Dalston,
434 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA
Reviewer: edible Jared, August 29, 2015