Zucca, Bermondsey

Zucca Bermondsey
A strong force on the Bermondsey food scene

The Vibe

When Zucca launched in 2010 it was seen as a cross between the River Café and St John, albeit minus the waterfront and without the pungent offal. Two years on and Zucca is still a strong force on the Bermondsey food scene, bravely fighting off the modish José  Pizarro’s attempts to make the area his tapas empire.  A modern and minimalist Italian joint, Zucca is the place to take a date if a) you want to look money without actually having to spend that much, b) you want to casually pretend you’ve been coming to Bermondsey since before it became ‘big’ or c) you’re still excited by a free amuse bouche at the start of a meal. If you can manage to get a table (book well in advance), you’ll be welcomed by a waitress whose haircut and makeup combo is as immaculate as the dining room she marshals. Thanks to an open-plan kitchen, a diverse crowd and an affordable (ish) menu, the formality is taken down a notch. The dishes, particularly the fish, are creative, beautifully flavoured, and delicate, with the thankful inclusion of rich pastas to satisfy the very hungry or very hung over.

The Order

The salted cod to start is a treat. For mains, opt for one pasta and one meat or fish to share. Although the menu changes regularly, look out for the roast cod with borlotti beans, clams and ransom. It’s excellent. And if she happens to ask, ransom is “a wild garlic plant with leaves that give a slightly more delicate taste than normal garlic”, translation “less likely to overpower me when I lunge in for a snog”. Skip dessert and perk up with an espresso and some limoncello before you carry on elsewhere.

The Game

Act au fait when your date gets excited about the surprising delights of Bermondsey, you are so at home here already. Keep the conversation cultured, sip on chilled white and name drop the other good foodie spots in the area.  Educate her, without being an utter twat- a very thin line indeed. Then swing by the White Cube gallery and charmingly poke fun at its pretentiousness, making witty little jokes about the art and proving that, despite what everything up to this point may have proved, you really are rather a laugh. Comparatively.  If it’s looking good at this point, suggest a trip to Vinoteca for some wine tasting and angle for a drunken kiss on the romantic cobbles once night falls. Better yet, take her down one of London Bridge’s many tunnels, either very intimate or slightly creepy.

The Faults

If you’re feeling anything less than perky then the bright, white and clean space is far from the dark cocoon you are most comfortable wooing dates in. That said, man up.

Sex Factor

1. A glorious date in a charming locale but you’re going to really have to drag it out if you’re expecting anything more. My advice is to save your money for the second date and just make sure that it’s in a shameless Shoreditch bar.

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