Mortimer House Kitchen, Fitzrovia: restaurant review

A "lean back and relax" ambience, attentive service and simply excellent food are all par for the course on a visit to Mortimer House Kitchen – a restaurant that's Fitzrovia through and through  

What's the draw:

The real question here is: what isn't? Wade into Mortimer House Kitchen's open and inviting dining area, careen yourself back in one of the restaurant's many comfortable seats and you'll quickly find waves of warmth and hospitality pooling around your ankles. Cooking on the hots in the restaurant's open kitchen is Lello Favuzzi – a man who spent the last decade of his career at Shoreditch's Italian icon L'Anima. The Mediterranean-ish menu showcases Favuzzi's Italian expertise alongside the chef's new-found Israeli bent. Having paid his dues exploring the food of Tel Aviv, Favuzzi has brought an admiration of the region's cooking back with him to London with heaping barrels of za'atar and tahini in tow. And, boy, are we glad he did.

What to drink:

MHK's enticing cocktail menu made deciding what to drink before we got to mull over the equally enticing food menu no mean feat. A 'Maslow's Mule' and 'Passion & Rose' proved all that fret was in vain. Because everything here is good, and the wines especially so. We'd recommend a bottle of the 2018 picpoul de pinet from Réserve Roquemolière: not only is it great value for money, but the crisp citrus fruit notes of the grape cut through the excellent olive oil you'll find lovingly meddled into most of the kitchen's dishes.

What to eat:

Plates come in a range of sizes and the best way to tackle the menu is by taking on as many dishes as you can possibly muster. An addictive and airy house-baked bread arrives first with a veritable bath of tahini and crushed tomato for dipping; mazara prawns and a trio of grilled lamb meatballs join the party not long after. Though the latter is a dish that edges slightly towards overkill, pickled mushrooms prevent the tahini and lipidity of the lamb from overwhelming your palate. That balance of fat and acid is present across the board. Burnt carrots are cooled by a generous quenelle of Greek yoghurt; creamy burrata-filled tortelli come ramped up with a glug of viscous balsamic vinegar. Larger plates also triumph: the grilled octopus that our dining partner tucks into – its tentacle back arched in anticipation and buckling lushly under the pressure of a fork side – is a far-cry from the rubbery tubes you'll find at sub-par seaside purveyors. Our perfectly-medium cutlet of veal sits happy-as-larry under a rustic caponata and scatter of pine nuts. And while a so-so tiramisu does little to excite in the dessert department, a simple dish of roasted pineapple and salted caramel ice cream more than makes up for its sweet stablemate's shortcomings.

Mains from £14, wine by the glass from £5. 37 Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3JH;