RESTAURANT REVIEW: Very Venice! Veneta brings the taste of Italy to St James’s Market

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THE recently revamped St James’s Market is a wonderful addition to our neighbourhood.

It is easily within walking distance of the Institute of Directors, where I spend much of the week, and is really magical. 

There are new restaurants and bakeries, and lovely shops to browse through, and I am delighted to have been an early diner at one of the best new arrivals – Veneta. 

Not surprisingly from its name, Veneta takes its inspiration from the beautiful historic city of Venice – which has a long, diverse, culinary heritage. 

Venice, as readers will remember, was one of the most important cities along the ancient spice route, and was a place where many people of many cultures met, and ate, together. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that this lovely restaurant specialises in classic Venetian dishes and cooking techniques, mixed with a bit of British and local seafood at a wonderful new seafood bar at the back of this modern, elegant, space.

One Sunday night not long ago, I dined with Dame Joan Stringer, my colleague and friend from the Institute of Directors.

We had a most delightful dinner consisting of numerous small plates, and this enabled us to try many of the specialities which had been recommended an hour before when I had a tour of the kitchens prior to our dinner. 

We started with mackerel cooked in laurel with grapes, samphire and Riesling vinegar. 

This was a clear winner in that the mackerel was complemented by the flavour of the piquant vinegar, and perfectly prepared to make each taste new and different. 

The grilled octopus was also delicious, with wood-roasted peperonata, served with polenta and marjoram.

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