Il Cudega in Hackney
At a glance, Il Cudega is the quintessential Italian deli and café serving everything with a smile, including second helpings. Upon a closer look, I was glad to realise I was not wrong. If you are looking for warmth in the upcoming months, Il Cudega is the place to go, even if it is just for its service and a sorbet.
The evening started with shavings of Grana Padano, a young hard cheese, freshly sliced and paired with a rare sparkling red wine. The cheese was sliced freshly, invoking a faintly fruity aftertaste and got along with the red wine fantastically. A great beginning to a meal is always a good omen for what’s to come.
Being as it were, the supper club’s primary focus was Gorgonzola. The chef is definitely skilled at melding flavours and he proficiently displays his expertise with lacing Gorgonzola throughout the meal with varying degrees of intensity.
The first course, Antipasto, began with a little speech from the new owners, who looked every bit like the proud parents. The restaurant is over a month old and currently serving meals only till lunch. This course, along with the remaining they promised, were to be paired with carefully selected red wines. I was both, surprised and not so with the first course. It contained some theatre – a large wheel of gorgonzola, especially imported and unwrapped for the occasion, was scooped in front of the guests causing many photo opportunities. The chef and team revelled in the occasion as they created perfect quenelles to go with prosciutto, wine glazed pears, acacia honey and walnut crumble. While the gorgonzola is unsurprisingly mild, it is surprisingly explosive when paired with the pear and crumble. This course was paired with a dry red wine (Sarai Capriano del Colle Marzemino DOC), selected for its quality of drawing out the bite that the cheese is well known for.
The second course, Primo, was the perfect vehicle for the chef’s talent to complement and build on unusual flavours. He selected as his showcase, sugar beet and pumpkin lasagna that was bathed in golden thyme butter and punctuated with aged gorgonzola. It was a complex dish, multi-layered and multi-textured. The full-bodied red (San Colombano Riserva) that accompanies it proves to be a worthy companion.
The penultimate course was another spectacular creation of polenta vol-au-vent with black wild mushrooms, porcini mushrooms and lombardo leaves with a molten centre of mild gorgonzola, completed with a swig of another very fruity red (Sassella Valtellina Superiore DOCG).
The real star of the show, apart from the chef and the team was the one-of-a-kind Gorgonzola Sorbet. The texture was dreamy and perfectly accentuated the sharpness of the cheese without building on its edge. The memory of the dish remains with you long after, leaving you puzzled and contend in equal measure. To finish, just as it started strong, was traditional Italian Panettoncino served with mascarpone cream and crema from Lombardy.
Overall, the restaurant takes immense pride in their region and the food that represents it. After all, everything is sourced from the Lombardy region. The hospitable team feeds great meals with authentic Italian pride, leaving you fully satisfied. But, you can always come back for some more!★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
To book a table at Il Cudega, 358 Westgate Street E8 3RN London, call 020 7241 6599 or visit here.