It doesn’t seem quite right to say there’s a dodgy part on the King’s Road. But there is, just beyond the trendy Bluebird brasserie, where the pavement gets a bit dirtier, the shops a bit more Londis. It is here that one stumbles upon La Famiglia restaurant. A place that proves eating out is just as much about the atmosphere as it is about the food.
When it first opened, La Famiglia was a delightful place frequented by Italian expats looking for genuine Italian food. Sadly, only the food has remained unchanged. The expats have been replaced by the sort of people that read Michael Winner’s weekly tosh in the even toshier newspaper-cum-tabloid that has become The Sunday Times (yes, Mr Murdoch, it may be a bit rich coming from a student newspaper). La Famiglia’s website even quotes the chap in their review section – but then, this is a website that also states “Like a vintage wine, La Famiglia simply improves with age” and endlessly name drops “[…] the place has attracted the likes of Bridget Bardot, Michael Caine, Peter Sellars and Princess Margaret.” Sometimes there just isn’t enough vomit in the world. Rustic charm has been wretchedly replaced by urban vulgarity.
Don’t get me wrong. The food is still first class, proper hearty Italian cuisine at its best. No messing about, just putting the best ingredients on a good-sized dish and plonking it on your table. But as I sat there, with a delicious vitello tonnato sitting in front of me, my mouth just could not fully appreciate the brilliance of the meal. My ears were under siege (for an overly heavy parallel, imagine the Persian invasion of Greece at the battle of Marathon), the constant stream of profanities coming from an odious, fat Australian to my left (no, not you Mr Murdoch, you’re skinny) just too much to handle. And to my right, two late comers joined an already overly crammed table and gleefully wedged their chairs closer and closer to mine. My friend and I didn’t have the strength or resilience the Greeks showed in 490 BC – we simply finished our main course, got the bill, and vowed to never return to this offence on what should have been a really cracking dinner.
7 Langton Street,
The World’s End,
Chelsea, London SW10 0JL