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"a top class neighbourhood Modern Italian Restaurant in Holland Park"
reports Clifford Mould 

There is no doubt about it: Italian is London's favourite European cuisine. Modern Italian cooking, served in stylish contemporary settings is what turns our taste buds on. Summer 2003 sees Edera as the latest from the small but significant A to Z restaurant group which also  includes Zafferano, Teca, Alloro, Spiga, Rosmarino and Timo. Edera is relatively small, the decor is fairly minimalist, with excellent subtle lighting, and there's no distracting music, just the happy sound of animated conversation and the occasional gale of laughter from the next table all helping to create a friendly, buzzy atmosphere.

Maximiliano Cotilli's menu is laid out on traditional lines, with antipasti, pasta dishes, meat and fish, cheeses and dolci. But his presentations are anything but traditional. A great deal of thought and imagination has been applied, from the pre-starter freebies to the petits fours. Pre-starters are often a bit of a cliché: but at Edera, out came an extraordinary strip of slate, precariously holding a shot glass of fresh tomato juice with bits in, a teaspoon of seared Tuna and an Italian version of Melba toast. I'm afraid my somewhat prosaic description does it no favours because it was very good! - but I could have done without the hoo-ha with the slate! 

From the starters we tried Coppa di Testa, made from brawn and other piggy parts, very tasty and served with grilled asparagus and tiger prawns, an odd sounding combination that nevertheless found favour with my guest. I had the Mozzarella in tre modi which was a perfect summer starter.  The first  mode was tricolore with basil and roasted tomato, the second came on a grilled miniature aubergine and the third was gently fried in breadcrumbs with an anchovy salsa. I'm very particular about mozzarella and this was good with a lovely milk-soft interior. The presentation was Japanese inspired, and this theme was continued throughout the meal. 

Next we shared two pasta dishes, both of which were so elegantly set on plain white square or oblong ceramics. The gnocchi with sweet breads was delicately flavoured and had a variety of textures that was most attractive. Paccheri are those large pasta tubes that you can stuff happily to the limits of your imagination, in this case Italian sausage, aubergine and zucchini. At this point I should interject that we were working our way steadfastly through the interesting list of wines by the glass, expertly paired up with each dish for us by the manager, Roberto Pisano. He is passionate about his restaurant, and clearly loves his wine list and was eager for us to sample as much variety as possible. Out came a succession of glasses of wine. Not just any old wine glasses, but beautiful Riedel-style ones (perhaps they were Riedel glasses?). I'm not going to list them all because I don't want you falling asleep - but please make sure you try the powerful Carignano from Sardinia.  

The main courses were equally carefully arrayed on similar ceramics, creating an effect that was a sort of cross between Nobu and Zafferano - (if you know both these restaurants, you'll know that to be mentioned in the same breath is quite something). I had a leg of rabbit stuffed with another sort of sausage. the meat was tender and the sausage not too spicy else it would have killed the delicate meat. It came with lentils that had been infused with truffle oil and tasted by crunchy and delicious. My friend chose the entrecote steak in five little rounds on fondant potatoes with more asparagus. It sounds a bit precious, but it really looked terrific, and we both appreciated the care that had gone into the presentation. At this point came the only hiccup of the evening, and one which in fact illustrates the good positive nature of the service at Edera. My friend's glass of Carignano was faulty, but this was rapidly replaced with a glass from a new bottle, so no harm done. 

This got me thinking about the way wines by the glass are served in most restaurants. If these are wines of which they are genuinely proud, why don't they bring the bottle to the table for the diner to see? After all, you pay more pro rata for wine by the glass, so why should you not taste it first, as you do with a whole bottle? 

The cheese list looks particularly good, but we moved on to the dolci. The crunchy chocolate mousse is the house favourite so we were told, so I ignored this advice and went for the roast spiced pineapple with ginger ice cream, whose lightness and spicy kick made a  perfect end to a summer meal. All in all, Edera offers seriously good cooking, imaginatively presented and intelligently  served.

Clifford Mould August 2003        Dine Online Highly Recommended

The price is realistic too: Dinner 2 courses £19.50, 3: £22.50, 4: £25.00 
(there's a £5.00 supplement for the entrecote steak and also for Tuna)
Lunch: 2 courses £16.50, three for £19.50
Edera is at 148 Holland Park Avenue, London  W11
Reservations: 020 7221 6090

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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