Salad, pizza, pasta and coffee in exchange for a little green King Sejong is not too shabby. The choice of pasta was confined to "verdure" and "beef fried rice". The second option seemed to be a little unorthodox for a pasta dish, so I went for the vegetable spaghetti.
First to come out were the obligatory pickles, two incredibly shiny morning rolls (which reminded me of dreadful breakfasts in business hotels, so I left them alone) and a small bowl of thick white sauce that did nothing to increase my appetite.
Then came the salad, a decent sized affair which was composed of several different leaves and rather too much iceberg lettuce. I'd asked for it without the dressing, so who knows what monstrosity might have appeared on my plate otherwise, all in all not bad for the price.
The pizza came next, a small slice of margherita topped with some chopped raw tomato (two pieces of which were ever so slightly dodgy looking). Not exciting and most probably microwaved back to hotness, the pizza is most definitely not the star of the set.
The spaghetti looked a lot more promising and the stalk left on the cherry tomato gave the plate a rustic air. The basil oil moat wasn't unpleasant and the sauce tasted very fresh... very fresh and very spicy. I'm a great fan of chili, but I was not expecting to be blasted out of my seat by the red pepper powder content. A fiery pasta, with lots of onion and the occasional piece of aubergine, courgette and capsicum. Overall a nice plate of vegetarian goodness, but certainly not for those who like their sauces to be subtle and spice free.
The coffee was pleasant, but the restaurant's obsession with Audrey Hepburn was more than a little disturbing. The scariest thing about it was a large quote on the wall:
I'm not sure what the double commas signify, but surely the restaurant's interior designer must have had a slight grasp on the basic rules of grammar. Saving that they could at least have given the film its proper title, you'd think as popular as it is in Korea, they could at least have got that right.
Then again, looking at the information "about IL MARE" on the other wall, you start to understand that perhaps the designer was going through a particularly rough patch in their lives and decided to take it out on Il Mare's decor. I've always wanted a restaurant to touch me deep, pure and true and I'm glad I've finally found it. Kiss me Il Mare, gift to me forever!
Il Mare's lunch set isn't bad for the price, but don't go in expecting something incredible and make sure to ask how spicy the daily pasta is. If you need an Audrey Hepburn fix and don't have "Rome Holiday" on dvd then make your way to Gangnam station exit 7, walk up to the City Cinema and turn right. Take the first left and Il Mare is on the right hand side just a short walk on. You can call them on 02 2051 8697 and ask them who their designer is and whether they're feeling better now.