Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Arrivederci Neal Street

I went to Antonio Carluccio's Neal Street Restaurant about 18 months ago. I thought it was wonderful and had always planned to go back sometime but never got around to it. So, when I heard that it was closing in March due to the landlord deciding to redevelop the area, it spurred me on to visiting again.

So, on a Tuesday night, a friend and I visited the restaurant to pay our respects for the final time.

We decided to make the most of it and do the full Italian four-courser.

For starters we both had Trifolata Di Funghi Del Giorno (Mixed sautéed wild and cultivated mushrooms of the day with garlic and chilli served with carasau bread) which was great. The Neal Street Restaurant is the perfect place for mushrooms and truffles and this mix of king oysters, chanterelles and others were all perfectly cooked and very tasty.

Next up I had Gnocchi Di Patate Con Fonduta Al Tartufo Invernale (home made potato dumplings served with fontina cheese and black winter truffle fondue.) I have to say, this was the best gnocchi I have ever had. It as so light and fluffy it was incredible that it had stayed together when it was cooked. And yet it had, it was wonderful. The cheese sauce was the perfect conistency and the truffles were just the icing on the cake.

Not many Italian restaurants have a secondi dish that is suitable for vegetarians, but Neal Street is a welcome exception. Pizzoccheri Alla Valtellinese is oven baked buckwheat flat pasta with savoy cabbage, Bitto cheese, potato and parmesan. It struck me as a sort of Italian "bubble and squeak" and was extremely pleasant.

Dessert was a no brainer, as there was a Creme Brulee on the menu and Gaz's rules say that he must have that if it's available. It was served in a large shallow dish. The caramelised sugar topping was perfect, however the 'creme' was a little runny for my liking. It tasted great though, so on the Gaz scale, it comes in at a seven.

It was a fabulous meal and it was nice to see Antonio Carluccio dining on one of the adjacent tables. It's such a shame that the restaurant is closing, I just hope that he can find a new location and re-open before too long. In the meantime though, I'll just have to get my mushroom fix at his Caffes.

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