Li Veli Winery and Bistro, Covent Garden
How many times have you searched for a place that’s just really, really good? Warm, busy atmosphere (without the waiting list of weeks), food that’s truly satisfying (not minimalist, not diner sized overload) and wine that’s authentic and interesting (sans the hefty price tag). Too much to ask for? Nope – we’ve found your answer. Authentically Apulian, Li Veli has the ideal date menu accompanied by their home grown wines and olive oil made in the family vineyard, we kid you not.
Start with a bread basket – sod the carbs, you need to douse it in their olive oil to whet your taste buds for the feast ahead. Go for the fresh burrata to start or the swordfish carpaccio. Move onto their delicate plates of organic pasta (homemade of course) or carry on with the small plates if the conversation is flowing. Whatever you do, save a little space for the pistachio dessert – clean, fresh and luxuriously light. Ask the waiters to match glasses of wine to your dishes – you must do by the glass here, and sparkle it up for at least one of them.
Meet at the restaurant – it’s a little like a film set in that it seems to effortlessly nail the “warm glow” feel. Try to call ahead and request a table by the window, they’re the absolute best unless you’d rather sit at the bar and concentrate more on wines and snacks than a full meal. If you’re incorporating Li Veli into part of an evening, complete any activities beforehand so you can relax here and refuse to rush. You’ll very likely find yourselves tumbling tipsily into taxis well past your bedtime, with no intentions of going home alone.
Hard to find. Coeliacs may not have a blast.