You’ll need to wander west to Harrow on the Hill – an area famous for its elite boarding school whose boys (high profile past pupils include Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Byron and Benedict Cumberbatch) still wear ‘boaters’ – in order to reach Incanto.
But – as the saying goes – the best things in life aren’t always the easiest to achieve. And a meal at Incanto – a classy Italian restaurant situated slap bang in the middle of this affluent area of north west London – rewards any effort involved.
The moment you pass the attractive Incanto deli and set foot in the restaurant – located on the site of a former Victorian post office – you know you’re in the hands of professionals. Incanto’s attentive maitre’ d, Risto Kaer, steers you with a smile to your table (tip: choose the one in the back right hand corner) in the dining space that’s elegant without being fussy: expect simply-laid tables, leather banquettes, beamed ceilings and a long skylight.
There’s a wide ranging selection of antipasti, primi piatti and secondi piatti so choosing what to order represents something of a delicious dilemma. Our advice? Treat your tastebuds and opt for the tasting menu (vegetarians will find something that appeals too) which allows you to sample several ‘standout’ dishes.
Haute Time has fond memories of the amuse bouches and exemplary homemade breads we enjoyed while waiting for our starters to arrive.
Ravioli filled with a liquid duck egg yolk centre was impeccable and served as a proof that there’s a confident – and imaginative – brigade at work in the Incanto kitchen.
This was confirmed with our first courses – we were blown away by the Hake (lightly salted hake fillet poached in single estate olive oil, cauliflower, back summer truffle) and veggie friendly Mozzarella (a simple yet satisfying salad of buffalo mozzarella and seasonal beets, horseradish and Israeli cous cous).
An Elderflower and prosecco granita brought back memories of sunny holidays in Southern Italy and acted as a refreshing palette cleanser before our mains. Suckling pig (slow cooked Lancashire suckling pig, Yukon gold potato hash, golden enoki mushrooms, pork fillet and cep) was sublime while the Artichoke (Roasted baby globe artichokes, smoked potato puree, Comte cheese, abalone mushroom and salisfy) was similarly hard to fault.
The Chocolate negus with milk ice cream followed by the Coconut, lychee and kamansi (Coconut and lychee cloud, toasted meringue, kalamansi sorbet and curd) proved an exquisite finish to an exceptional meal.
The drink menu is persuasive too: proprietor, David Taylor, and restaurant manager, Emmanuel Kuskahere, have compiled an admirable wine list, that runs the length of Italy with forays into France, Hungary and, further afield, South Africa and New Zealand.
Service is warm and and efficient in equal measure – Maria and the rest of the staff ensure that the restaurant runs like clockwork. All told every diary should have a window for a meal at this excellent Italian restaurant: a handy spot to know when in Harrow.