I really want to be generous to La Primavera, because there is something about it that engenders generosity. It would be very easy to write a negative review because our experience there wasn't perfect in the slightest, but there is a charm about the place and the homely hospitality that we received, so much so that being negative seems almost mean.
We went for lunch on a Saturday, and were literally offered a choice of tables - the waiter took us on a small tour of the restaurant, pointing out table after table that we could choose to sit at. Clearly it was a quiet day for them, but that was an unusual start to proceedings.
We ordered a couple of glasses of wine from the wine list, and went about making our food choices. I have to say that for 'small' glasses they were very generous pours. Its nice to see they have a small, very focused wine list featuring only Italian wines with a significantly wide price range - I'd be interested to know if anyone ever orders the £150 a bottle Barolo they've got on the list. Though the 'by the glass selection' is a bit limited, and pretty obvious - Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay for the whites, Merlot and Chianti for the reds.
The food was probably best described as rustic Italian, which suits the setting well, it being a former inn in a small W. Berkshire town. We deliberately steered clear of the obvious (pizza, lasagne etc), and chose some fish and the house risotto instead. We also let the waiter talk us into ordering some deep fried courgette as a side dish. The portions were generous; I doubt anyone would leave here hungry; the food has bags of flavour, but both the risotto and the courgettes were a bit heavy handed with the salt.
We shared a dessert, and chose something we'd never heard of before, and which the waiter struggled to describe. It was almost like a pasty, made of biscotti and filled with sweet ricotta, and served with a chocolate sauce. It was very unusual, though I'm not so sure I'd order it again. Like most of the food we tried, it wasn't unpleasant at all, but seemed like it was cooked at home and not in a restaurant kitchen. Which was the lasting impression we got from La Primavera, that it was charmingly amateur in its operation, from the kitchen through to the waiter. Almost like going for dinner at a friend 'who fancies themselves as a chef's house or the Italian Grandmother you never had, but their generosity and jovial nature makes up for any lack of technical ability.
We'll go back because we enjoyed ourselves, not for the refined dining experience.
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