Daphne's is not a new kid on the block; it has been around for decades. It is a staple high-end Italian brasserie in South Kensington where I imagine local posh families have been eating for generations. Walking into Daphne's on a warm summer day, the restaurant's bay windows were open onto the street and the white linen-clad tables offered an inviting view. The patrons were certainly well-heeled but it was refreshing to see such a mix of generations: small children, ladies and men who lunch, as well as seniors. We blended in very nicely.
Daphne has a luxurious feel without being ostentatiously so. The service is efficient and discreet with a lot of thought put behind appearing invisible, yet being present. Daphne's also offers the option of dining at the bar, which is always welcome when you just want to pop in for a drink or a quick meal. The tables in the restaurant are beautifully adorned with fresh flowers and the spacing between tables is conducive to comfortable conversation. Always a bonus in my book.
The menu offers many classic italian dishes, with a focus on fresh, local produce. As seductive as it was, we opted for the lunch menu and were not disappointed. Our daily menu read as follows:
Chilled Tomato Soup with Stracciatella
Zucchinie, Melon & Mint Salad with Caprino
Bresaola della Valtellinawith Shaved Fennel & Rocket
Pork Scaloppini with Borlotti, rosemary & new Season Garlic
Chargrilled Sea Bream, samphire, Shrimp & Amalfi Lemon
Paglia e Fieno with Smoked Salmon & Wilted Spinach
As kindred spirits, my friend and I chose the same dishes. The chilled tomato soup was divine; the perfect starter on a hot day. The sweetness and freshness of the tomatoes were beautifully offset by the saltiness of the fresh straciatella (a type of burrata). The sea bream was well-cooked and complemented with salty samphire and tangy lemon. We could not have chosen better. The portions were perfect and the ingredients were at their freshest.
I would go there again in a heartbeat, maybe with C. for an intimate evening meal.
(photos courtesy of the restaurant's own website)