|Trying Out Nicole Kidman's Favourite W4 Restaurant|
Emma Brophy follows in the footsteps of an Aussie A-lister at Strada
Ever wondered why Bill Bailey always seems to be outside Giraffe or why Marco Pierre White clearly prefers Tootsie’s coffee to his own? These questions will probably remain a mystery to me however, I do know what Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban see in Chiswick’s Strada.
My impressions of Strada when it first opened were so so and hadn’t felt compelled to return. Therefore the sightings of Nicole and Keith sitting outside Strada basking in the High Road’s early Autumn sunshine was the final push needed to tempt me back.
Strada bill themselves as “a group of contemporary Italian restaurants serving good quality, simple, freshly prepared dishes using the finest seasonal produce available.” Although the interior is modern it has an inviting feel to it rather like a Habitat room display. Vast round mirrors hung on woven neutral wallpaper and dark wooden floors and furniture give a warm feeling to the surroundings.
We were dining late (9.45pm) but there were still a fair number in the restaurant all of whom had congregated in the no smoking section at the front of the pizzeria. We ordered Antipasto Misto (£5.95) to share as a starter and received a sizeable plate piled with Speck, Parma ham and Napoli salami, with buffalo mozzarella, vine ripened tomatoes and chargrilled ciabatta all of which had evidently from both its appearance and taste not simply been plucked from a tin or packet but carefully prepared.
For mains I chose Linguine Alla Pescatora (£9.50) sautéed tiger prawns, squid, mussels and fresh, clams in white wine, garlic, chilli in a fresh tomato sauce. The fresh sauce and generous quantities of plump seafood really made this dish which I admit I hadn’t expected to be of such a high standard coming from a chain restaurant’s kitchen but was delighted to be proved wrong.
My husband ordered Rossa (£8.95) a pizza with spicy pepperoni sausage, roasted red peppers, chilli, caramelised onion, garlic, fresh oregano, tomato mozzarella. As a die hard fan of Pizza Express’ American Hot, he conceded that his pizza was really rather good. “Good enough to switch allegiances?” I asked. The question was not dignified with a response.
After a few glasses of a delightful Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (£14.95) I discovered by happy coincidence we were being served by the same waitress that had served Nicole Kidman. Keen to know what she had eaten (I had already hazarded a guess that it was not the same as what I had just tucked into!) I made enquiries and learnt that A-list film stars eat green salad (with no dressing) and rocket and parmesan (again with no dressing) and their rock star husbands favour cappuccinos.
Our waitress was more than happy to wax lyrical about what a lovely couple they are, Keith Urban has been back a few times, and how joyful the staff at Strada were that they chose their humble eatery over celebrity central at High Road House.
These insights alone were worth the £47.59 bill (including service) surely Hello! Pays a fortune for such insider information? We (alright then I) had to admit that whilst the lure of Hollywood got me through Strada doors for a second time, the food is good enough to tempt a third trip with or without film stars out front.
November 14, 2006