Busy, noisy, closely seated and a pasta and pizza joint that oozes Italian-ness and a low-key sophistication. Automatic is bullseye accurate in its pursuit of a casual dining ethos that is neither expensive nor pretentious. Service is agile and prompt and, mid-week, you can bring your own booze.
Pastas are good. Pappardelle with duck ragu is the restaurant’s signature and its most ordered pasta dish. The slow-braised sauce is teamed with mushroom, made creamy with mascarpone and lifted with fresh herbs. Some pastas aren’t as successful as this barn burner of a dish, but all pass muster. Avoid their pesto though – it was oxidised and dull when we visited last.
Antipasti is another strong suit at Automatic but mains, in keeping with the quick, cheerful style of the place, are thin on the ground – just four as it turns out, including a chicken parmi of some merit. The wine list is a slim document but well-pitched at the locals who flock to the place for their mid-week nosebag or a big weekend celebration.
Automatic manages to capture the frenetic and authentic pace of a neighbourhood joint in, say, Milan or Bologna with tiny, close-set tables serried along a banquette with punters just centimetres apart. We love it, but you wouldn’t want to suffer from personal space issues.