Covent Garden is a hotspot for fantastic bars, restaurants and nightlife so it wasn’t surprising that I found myself enjoying my time at Italian bistro, Li Veli. Thanks to its great location, a window seat is the best in the house so you can people watch while you eat. I was instantly struck by the cream-coloured interior which gives the venue a warm, spacious feel and when the sun set and candles were adorned around the place, it made it quite romantic. The menu showcases an authentic taste of Southern Italy plus their very own namesake wines which can also be bought from their on-site wine and speciality food shop.
One of my favourite dishes was the starter, “FAVE E CICORIA”, home-made broad bean mash. Now it doesn’t sound all that exciting, or even that appealing but it comes served with spinach, rustic bread and a drizzle of olive oil which turned it into a lovely, little dish. In fact most of the dishes have very simple explanations but you just have to trust they will do the best with the listed ingredients.
On to the mains, I must admit with a weary heart that I had to add seasoning to my first ever dish and this is a big confession as I never add pepper and especially salt, to anything. It’s even a pet peeve of mine when people add flavourings to dishes before they’ve tried them, but I promise you it was necessary. The Organic Orecciette Home Made Pasta “CIME DI RAPA” served with broccoli and toasted bread crumbs (I requested to have it without the anchovies) had no prominent flavour to it and was rather disappointing. Organic Orecciette is just little, flat shaped ears of whole wheat pasta which granted did have its own flavour but it was an earthy one that I wasn’t overwhelmed with. In lieu of sauce the broccoli, of which I am normally a huge fan, was bland, almost watery as though it had been over-boiled before being slightly mashed. The Sea Bass Fillet fared much better on the flavour scale though and I couldn’t keep my hands off the incorrectly named potatoes side (described as jacket potatoes) which turned out to be roasted Charlotte potatoes which came served with rosemary and olive oil.
After a less than spectacular middle, the meal finale did well to save the evening with delicious puddings although again the descriptions didn’t exactly match to what ended up in front of us. The “TRULLETTO” Warm Almond Flan with pineapple, vanilla and chocolate soil turned out to be 3 small cones of “flan” which was delicious but it wasn’t until my last bite that I confusedly found a small piece of fruit, before I realised it was the aforementioned pineapple making an appearance. A small jug of cream/custard is poured over the cones but I would advise eating this first instead of the chocolate soil which had an over-powering bitterness that blocked some of the more subtle flavours. The Vanilla and Black Cherry Pannacotta was a great dish with the fruit coulis cutting through the sweetness of the pannacotta.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Li Veli and would liken the venue to Carluccio’s before they were popping up everywhere and lost some of their magic. Situated on Long Acre Road, it’s an easy minute walk to Covent Garden and a pleasant walk over the bridge to Waterloo where you can soak up the sights of the city whether you’re a local or just visiting.