Did you know it’s possible to get drunk on pasta? Review: Bancone, Covent Garden

Did you know it’s possible to get drunk on pasta? No, me neither until I visited Bancone.

It had been on our list of restaurants since it opened in 2018. Turns out three years is exactly how long it takes to run out of excuses for not going anywhere near Trafalgar Square.

We were late to the party, then. So late that the host, founding chef Louis Korovilas, was now standing in someone else’s kitchen, having departed for Tavolino in London Bridge just before the pandemic.

So what of his trademark silk handkerchief pasta? Well it’s still on the menu and it may be the first pasta dish I’ve eaten where the pasta is not a carrier for something you actually remember, a sauce or some seafood or something spicy. The glassy, folded lasagne sheets come almost nude. They are the front man, the bride, with a confit egg playing bass and some walnut butter arranging the hen do.

These analogies could be extended to the restaurant itself. The dining room looks like a thousand others, the service is a bit eager, and while there’s countertop seating, which can be an atmospheric gaze into a restaurant’s soul, at Bancone you watch a man behind a perspex screen preparing broad beans. By the time we got to dessert I was beginning to wonder if we were sitting in front of one-way glass, given the lack of interaction.

Which is all to say that pretty much the only reason to visit is the pasta, and I suspect it’s by design. Why would they serve a starter of focaccia with no bite or salt or ooze unless they wanted you to leave it untouched to save room for the… pasta.

None of this is intended to deter, because eating pasta at Bancone is the kind of perception-bending experience that could, if you were of a certain temperament, inspire you to form a cult, or at least a very fervent fan page on Facebook.

After only a few years Bancone already stands as a credible alternative to the likes of Trullo and Bocca di Lupo, and unlike these Italian elders it’s as cheap as patatine fritte.

Every main course is priced between £9 and £15, and so you order three mains to share between two, and because they’re too good to leave, you end up floundering out the door feeling woozy, pissed on carbs. 8.5/10

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