A touch of Italy in the heart of the City

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Taberna Etrusca, a restaurant in Bow Churchyard, two minutes walk away from St Paul's Cathedral celebrates its fiftieth birthday. And that makes it one of London's longest lived eateries.

But is it showing its venerable age? Or is it forever young? This City veteran certainly has few tables free at lunchtimes - and virtually no space on Fridays. Its appeal is that it has been there so long that it's reliable, with an atmosphere that almost makes you forget that, over its lifetime, the surrounding City of London has moved from three or four hour lunchtime breaks as normal to a rushed sandwich in front of a screen. The Taberna's website talks of "classic trattoria style, with textured white walls, tiled floor, open-beamed ceiling and an overall timeless quality."

The menu has evolved but not that much over that time - certainly there is no concession to modern anything. That, however, is what the customers like - it's a nostalgia trip.

I dined there with someone who felt unwell (nothing to do with the food). So there is just my experience.

I started with the Insalata di Anatra con Patate, Barbabietole e Salsa di Arachide, Arancia e Pepperoncino - that's duck salad with potatoes, beetroot and a peanut, orange and chilli dressing. This is one of the newer dishes on the menu. Costing £8.75, it was tasty, with the chilli not overpowering the orange. The dish size was generous.

For my main course, I went for old school nostalgia, choosing the Piccatine di Vitello ai Limone e Pomodori Secchi - veal escalopes fried in lemon, white wine and sundried tomato sauce. It was better than I expected - though to be truthful, I was not expecting too much. At £15.75, it was good value - had it not been that you needed to add on some £8 extra for vegetables. It's that UK restaurant trick of offering choice but charging through the nose for it. Still, there were otherwise no complaints.

There's also a choice of pasta dishes - although they looked less appetising than the more complex items.

As we had time - most of the other diners had left by around 2pm - I treated myself to a sweet. I selected the panettone bread and butter pudding with double cream - it was delicious, the more so as it was pure indulgence!

The house wine is excellent value with a wide choice of wines by the glass and bottles starting as low as £19.

Taberna Etrusca does not set out to be food as high art. But in an area generally bereft of culinary interest, it's worth a visit, if only to imagine what deals the City types to your left and right are cooking up.

Expect to pay around £50 a head for three courses, wine, coffee and service.

Taberna Etrusca

9-11 Bow Churchyard, London EC4M 9DQ

Phone 020 7248 5552

Lunch up to 3.30pm, evenings to 10.00pm

Closed Saturday and Sunday

www.tabernaetrusca.co.uk

Nearest stations St Paul's, Bank, Cannon Street.

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