Manicomio, Chelsea, London

My friend and I ended up at Manicomio after our much anticipated trip to Polpo next door was unsuccessful. We should have guessed for a Saturday lunchtime slot during Summer that we would have needed to have booked in advance. Luckily, Manicomio next door were happy to seat us and we were given a seat outside in the bustling Duke of York Square and handed the menu. 

There wasn't a huge choice on the menu; there were around 4 dishes that were meat based, but oddly none of them seemed very substantial or were cooked for that matter. We'd slipped out of the house a bit later than we'd hoped and were really hungry so we ordered the 35-day cured rump steak with beetroot and watercress. We were informed on ordering that this was served cold. My friend was slightly dissuaded by this as you'd expect beef rump steak would be cooked at a cost of £14.95 each. Apart from the cold beef rump steak, there was yellow fin or organic salmon, those options were also served cold. Something seemed a bit odd and we struggled as to why we couldn't seem to find a hot cooked meal on the menu. 

This looks lovely aesthetically, but in essence it was just thin slices of cold beef with watercress on top; more like an appetiser than a main. I ordered some buffallo mozzerella and I feel that if we hadn't ordered this side dish, that the meal would have been extremely plain. We were not offered any bread as other tables seemed to have on their tables. 

The buffallo mozzerella was gorgeous and probably the best I've ever eaten. My beef was nothing special and desperately lacking something else. After our main course, we decided to get a dessert; as we were still pretty hungry after this main. There were various options, but most of them were slices of cakes, and tartes, etc. In the end, we decided to go for a Wild Berry and White Chocolate at around £4.95. 

This was our dessert. A slice of cake on a plate. We spoke to the waitress and explained that we were disappointed with the lack of cream or something to accompany this lonely slice of cake that had just been placed on a plate from inside. Our waitress explained that this is how it is served and that other guests have never complained about it. She let us choose something else and took the cake away. We opted for the Chocolate cake as I'd seen a waitress serve it with cream to another guest. This was our second choice:

The cake was gluten free, flour free and came with cream this time. The cream however, was a thick, plain almost clotted cream substance without any flavour. And so we ended up eating a huge piece of chocolate cake to cheer ourselves up and then feeling pretty guilty afterwards. 

As you can probably sense, we weren't very pleased with our meal, but I discovered where the broken link was between our understanding of Manicomio as a restaurant. All the food was already cooked and in containers like a buffet. The waitresses just dish up cold, quick food [right] and serve it. This is fine as long as the guests are aware of this and I personally think that charging £15 for food that was previously cooked and is lacking in substance is not great quality. There was also an extra £6 added to the bill for service charge. I don't think that Manicomio should market themselves as a 'restaurant' when they're serving ready-made food like a cafe does.