Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Locanda Locatelli, London

Locanda Locatelli
8 Seymour Street, London W1H 7JZ
Tel: 020 7935 9088

Giorgio Locatelli's book, Made in Italy is a fantastic cookery book. It's more than just that though, it is virtually the story of his life through food, and also the story of Italian food through Giorgio's life. Having read through the book, seen him at the Good Food Show, I just had to try his restaurant. So, my wife and I decided that we would visit there after we had spent the afternoon at the theatre.

It was just after 6.30pm when we arrived and sat in the small bar area while they got our table ready. While we were there, we watched Giorgio giving instructions to his staff and he then wandered over and said hello to every one that was waiting.

Shortly after we were taken to our table and the drinks we had ordered in the bar were brought over. Some grissini arrived along with the menus. We chose our starters and main course and spoke to the wine waiter to order a glass of wine that would go with the food we'd ordered. (I was driving so was limiting myself to a single glass) It actually worked quite well, as my wife ordered a different glass for each course.

So, to the food. A bowl of a selection of delicious breads (focaccia, olive and others) was delivered along with a dish of olive oil.

By this time, my wife had decided that she loved the place as it was smart, but not pretentious and had a lovely relaxed atmoshphere. And she wants to go back for her birthday, which I'm more than happy to do.

For starters my wife had pan fried scallops with saffron vinaigrette which she said was excellent. For main she had the day's special which was medallions of venison with mushrooms and vegetables. Again she said it was very nice, the venison was not quite to the 'melt in your mouth' stage, but very nearly.

The only items on the starter menu that were suitable for me to eat were salads. Initially I was disappointed, as I'm not a huge salad fan, but I ordered the Belgian endive salad with gorgonzola cheese and pear. I was very pleasantly surprised by what I got. Simple, beautifully presented and extremely tasty. The leaves of the endives were filled with grated pear and then stacked. On top of the stack was a lovely creamy piece of gorgonzola.

For main I decided to feed my truffle addiction and ordered the potato and mushroom gnocchi with black truffle. I've not seen quite so much truffle on a plate before and it was gorgeous. It had a very delicate sage butter sauce with it and my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I was really chuffed to find it in his book - it's definitely on my "to try" list.

As for the other items on the menu, there were plenty of "primi's" that I could eat and they all sounded lovely. As is the case with most Italian restaurants, the secondi consisted of mat and fish, but as we were having three courses (in the good old standad Brit way of doing things) it did not matter. However, it would be nice, occasionally to find a secondi that would be suitable for a vegetarian.

I was left to battle the puddings on my own as my wife was too full and opted for a port instead. I plumped for the chestnut mousse, warm chocolate foam, lemon thyme cream and brandy ice cream. The lemon thyme was such a surprise and so refreshing. The whole thing was lovely, and not too filling.

The people on the table next to us were friends of Georgio and when one of them asked if he could have crab instead of some other seafood in a dish, Georgio popped out to see them and say that he wouldn't do the crab as the sauce would be too strong for it. However he would do something else for him.

He was also talking about where he gets his fish from and that he'll only get it if its fresh etc… It was interesting. Every so often he would pop out of the kitchen to greet people as they entered the restaurant - it was really nice to see.

Then it was coffee and time for the bill. Including tip, £150ish. We didn't think it was bad for such a great experience, and we'll be back there later in the year for my wife's birthday.

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