L’Anima means soul in Italian and that is precisely what the team at L’Anima aim to achieve whether it is the type of food they want to serve to their guests or the serenity in their decor. It is situated at one of their quieter back streets behind Liverpool Station bordering the Shoreditch area. They have a more casual L’Anima cafe for those who simply want to enjoy artisanal drinks and relaxed dining and the more formal and refined restaurant close by.
What you might notice first is how incredibly white the whole venue is: limestone travertine for the floor, white leather chairs, white tablecloths and white lights. There is a certain calming effect when you dine at L’Anima; although you might think the decor lacks character, the vibrancy and innovation comes from the food that is served.
The southern Italian cuisine here is a cavalcade of culinary winners from start to finish. Sourcing is a key part of L’Anima’s success story, their giant, fleshy green olives are shipped regularly from Puglia. Likewise, the creamy, buttery burrata they use in their amuse bouche is shipped twice weekly from Puglia. The dish is elegantly flavoured with plum puree and decorated attractively with beetroot crisp and flower petals. A simple glass of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, which is light, refreshing and has the versatility to match with a broad spectrum of food is the ideal way to complement the start of your meal.
It’s no secret that we “eat with our eyes” first and the plating of the food here is exceptional. You just need to consider what could have been a rather tepid dish of summer vegetable salad with grand padano crust and fresh ricotta: here it is vibrant, colourful and a visual feast for the eyes.
The highlight of the visit is their pasta dishes: I argued endlessly with my vegetarian guest as to whether his beetroot tortelli with smoked burrata, ricotta and aged balsamic vinegar was the best pasta dish in existence or my langoustine and prawn filled ravioli with spicy lobster broth. The rich, sweet and slightly tangy broth is a result of hours of meticulously slow-cooking to achieve this heavenly taste.
There are no weaknesses in their menu in all the sections that we tried, including a very succulent and tender beef fillet that has been dry-aged for 21 days.
Soufflé comes from the French word souffler, which means blow up or puff up and the raspberry version here is perky and light and doesn’t deflate readily.
There is so much enjoyment derived from their well-constructed menu that once you leave, you are already thinking about when you should book your next visit. Whilst you are reading this review, I’ve probably called their reservations team and made a booking again.