Sette is Italian for 'seven'. It is a joint venture between Marco Pierre White and Frankie Dettori MBE. It is not their first food collaboration, the other being 'Frankie's Italian Bar and Grill' (based on the New York Italian dining experience). The name 'Sette' was inspired by Dettori's historic achievement in 1996 when he rode 7 winners at Ascot. Him Indoors is a big horse racing fan, but tends to choose restaurants on the basis of their food rather than the sporting achievements of the owner. Let's face it, plenty of people (wealthy punters, celebrities and rich businessmen) have all had forays into the restaurant trade, with many failing spectacularly, or disappearing apologetically. So the big question to answer: IS IT ANY GOOD? Well, the short answer is yes. It is pretty bloody excellent!
Sette is located in the South Kensington area, among the gorgeous and hugely expensive white stucco houses of nearby Pelham Gardens and Onslow Gardens. Its immediate neighbours include Bibendum, the Bibendum Oyster bar and a branch of small Thai chain Patara.
The interior was light and airy, combining just the right amount of elegance with casual charm. Clean lines, crisp linen and well-proportioned tables grace the dining room, yet the pictures on the wall demonstrate humour and just a little of Dettori's endearing cheekiness; stills from Italian films, atmospheric vintage photos and a few momentoes from Dettori's glittering career.
On arrival we were tempted with an aperitif. Well, I find it hard to resist a cold, inviting glass of Prosecco, so I succumbed to temptation. The prosecco was perfectly dry, not aggressively fizzy, with crisp flavours and great balance. Perfetto!
The three different breads we were offered were a spongy, fluffy Ciabatta, golden with olive oil, a dense and earthy wholemeal and some rustic, herby olive bread. I have a particular penchant for how well the Italians use herbs, so the herb olive bread was going to be the clear favourite.
Olive bread with olive oil; the herbs were fragrant and delicate. The use of fresh olives rather than oil preserved or briny was very effective. I felt we got the real taste of the olives which was gentle and refined, rather than the over sharp flavour of either brine or oil which can mar the overall taste of bread.
Insalata de granchio avocado e melograno: crab salad with avocado and pomegranate
A very generous proportion of lovingly prepared white crab meat is the highlight of this dish. It takes considerable time and effort to cook crab meat and then hand pick it to ensure no pieces of shell remain. The crab was sweet and succulent. The avocado ripe, soft and yielding. The pomegranate dressing has a slight tang tinged with ripe sweetness. It is a dish of wonderfully pleasing tastes and textures.
Insalata de polipo: octopus salad with potato, capers and olives
The octopus was marinaded in a slightly piquant and subtly spiced marinade. It was grilled just how I like my octopus/squid; literally JUST cooked. The accompaniment of salad leaves, potato, capers and olives complimented and contrasted the octopus with counterpointed flavours and textures. Some may find the actual suckers on the tentacles a little disconcerting, but this is a superb dish.
Agnello con melanzane gratinate: rack of lamb with baked aubergine and black olive sauce
Funnily enough, usually both Him Indoors and I go for very different main courses. As appears to be increasingly typical, he goes for meat and I go for fish. However, on this occasion, we decided to go for the lamb. Rack of lamb is a glorious dish when cooked right. The bones give the meat flavour
Zucchini friti: fried courgette
These julienned zucchini were battered in a blend of plain flour with an almost Indian twist; gram flour. The result is a crispy, crunchy fried veggie with a perfectly crisp outside surrounding the soft and pleasant inside. This would make an enviable tapa in a tapas bar, or a fantastic alternative to chips.
Herby roasted potatoes are one of the things which makes me salivate. These were new potatoes, which meant no crispiness, but I didn't miss it at all. These were aromatic, light and delicious.
Rocket and parmesan
A classic combination, this was peppy, peppery rocket with good quality aged parmesan. Topped with aged balsamic vinegar, this was a versatile side dish.
Semifreddo alla nocciola con salsa cioccolato:
As the name suggests, this is a semi-frozen dessert. Here, it involves a hazelnut paste (a parfait) with chocolate sauce. It is light, yet creamy. It is nutty, yet not heavy. How can this be? Served with the fresh fruits, which I heartily suggest you eat the pudding with, the chocolate and cream tastes alive, fresh and zingy.
Torta Caprese: Chocolate and almond cake
Him Indoors describes this pudding as 'brilliant'. Served with old fashioned home made ice cream, it was wholesome, rich and flavourful. Chocolatey and uber-tasty, this is a lovely pudding!
Turning to the service, I found it to be first rate. A couple of other reviewers, particularly on Trip Advisor, appear to have been dissatisfied with the service. Perhaps they visited on a Friday or Saturday night when the restaurant would have been at its busiest. I always try to be forgiving when dining at peak time. Waiting staff have to multi-task and remember so much. Filling my glass once is not going to kill me, so I don't let it affect my enjoyment of a dining experience, particularly when I can see the staff running around like the proverbial blue bottomed flies. But, to each their own opinion. The whole Claude Bosi/James Isherwood 'Chefgate' debacle is not something I am keen to get involved with! (If you want to see a summary of the whole blizzard in a bain-marie, then see this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/nov/08/top-chefs-unite-against-blogger-s-review)
Anyway, we were visiting on a weekday for lunch. The service could have been much too attentive, since there were only a few tables full. My assessment was that it was caring, helpful, polite and done with grace and a smile. How important just a smile is! I really have no complaints.
Sadly, this week, Frankie is embroiled in a drug taking row, and I hope that he comes out of it well. But just in case he does not, the restaurant trade suits him well. I would honestly say that on this performance, he can move into a completely new sphere with no difficulties whatsoever. Well done, Frankie!
4 Sydney Street
London SW3 6PP
020 7352 3435