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circeplum

locanda locatelli

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just visited the newly opened locanda locatelli.  my date and i have decided to cancel our exotic holidays and just move into the divine giorgio's new restaurant for the duration.  from stunning cocktails (with a mountain of freebies: parmesan breadsticks; marinated onions, peppers and olives; caramelised onion-topped foccaccia; weeny rolls stuffed with parma ham) to a defeated sigh at the end, i've never had such a brilliant meal in london.

i want to die eating my starter: truffled hand-made gnocchi in sage and butter topped with masses of shaved black truffle.  

not even lunatically expensive.  go.

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for those in london, today's (wednesday's) issue of the metro has a review - hugely positive - as was the weekend telegraph.  i know class when i see it!

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Had a very enjoyable meal there tonight.  

Started with well made Negronis and a large basket of bread (baked on the premises).

Being Majumdars (of that ilk) we went for three starters which the small (and inadequately spaced) tables struggled to accomodate.  Mackerel wrapped in pork belly, fried cheese and a superlative Ox tongue with a salsa verde were all exemplary. Clean strong flavours.

Mains were slightly mixed.  My sweetbreads suffered from a slightly uncomplementary sweet 'n sour sauce and parsimonious portioning (visit Foliage for the ne plus ultra  sweetbread dish) although the sweetbreads themselves were good.  

Simon's fillet of Buccleuch was as good a piece of beef I've had.  It was served with a superfluous polenta and a less superfluous radicchio.  I daringly allowed Simon to choose the wine but he came up trumps with a 1998 La Grola from Allegrini.

Deserts were competent but not a must have (maybe we don't love deserts enough).

Coffee was the superb Illy and they even managed to gather some mint leaves together for Simon's tea - which was nice. A couple of grappas and petits and that was us.

Extra points for the enthusiastic and knowledgable staff and the fact that they welcome children (esp. on Saturday lunch time).

Bottom line: I liked it.  This place deserves to succeed.

Robin

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FWIW

my take on the place

Robin and I went to this new Italian place for dinner tonight  and I have to say after the disappointments of the great Parisian debacle, it was indeed a pleasant surprise.

                       

The room is welcoming and the staff more so, although I am not sure that buying the front of house desk from a sell off of Blake 7 memorabilia was quite the thing.  

I was little concerned as the jazz musings of Bird were blaring our a little too loudly, but bang on 8.00pm they turned it off.

                       

We started with a Negroni each. Too strong but well priced at £6.50.

                       

We could not really choose on the starters so ordered three. Mackerel wrapped in pork belly ( salty/sweet and juicy ), pan fried cheese and a superlative Ox tongue with a salsa verde. Each was worthwhile for their simplicity, no muss no fuss, but the Ox tongue was a revelation with a texture and taste that is rarely found in the bland supply in London ( the estimable St J's excluded )

                       

Breads ( seven varieties ) and breadsticks were baked on site and worthy of special mention

                       

Main courses were more mixed. Robin went for a sweetbread in a "sweet & Sour sauce" I was less convinced about this than him. I thought it over powered. He thought it was better and more savoury. My beef loin was close to the perfect piece of beef. It was Buucleugh Beef from the highlands who also supply Buck house and Le Gavroche. The meat was marbled and of stunning flavour and cooked to perfection. Something which sounds simple but is achingly difficult. Sides of Spinach and salad were OK but slightly

                       

Desserts were a pistachio yoghurt and a fondant. Good, but only puddings and therefore not worthy of true discussion by grown ups

                       

The wine list was small but contained lots of choice under £30.  It also scored high by not relying too heavily on the Tuscans with some superb Barbera’s and some Sicilian wines who made me an offer I could refuse.  We chose a well priced veneto ( Allegrini ) at £29 was subtle and light and from a good grappa list we chose  a  Nonino Moscato and a Nonino Pirus at £9 a pop

                       

Service throughout was spot on and it is noticable that when I asked about the provenance of the beef, Mr Locatelli himself came out with the brochure to chat passionately and at length to us about it and the restaurant.

                       

Bill with the works came to £150 for two. I would proffer great value for money.

7 1/2 /10

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For members not located in the UK, A A Gill (among the better UK critics in my mind) gave locanda locatelli five stars (the top rating, and, according to the article, a first?). The primary motivation for the fifth star appeared to have been locatelli's "decent" treatment of his staff, which Gill noted showed in his experience at the restaurant (?)  :wink:

In contrast to Gill's well-written (and, based on my experience with past reviews, reasonably insightful) reviews (esp. now that Jonathan Meades is no longer prolific in this regard), see Giles Coren's recent attempts at writing (leaving aside the fundamental question of assessment of things culinary):

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,1147-225709,00.html

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is that guy a temporary replacement?

stephen -- I have no idea, but I hope so  :wink:  Did you read the Norman Mathews (or some other name??) review of Clerkenwell Dining Room over the weekend?  My recent experience there was fairly good, but not consistent with this critic's raves. (See thread referenced by the restaurant's name in this forum) I've noticed the same critic raving about all sorts of other things.  :wink:

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We ate here on Friday night.  We’d made the reservation 3 weeks earlier and had to be contented with a 7.30 slot, as the restaurant was full.  We arrived at 7.30 and 3 other tables were occupied.  By 8 the restaurant was maybe 1/3 full, by 8.30 a half and when we left at 9, ¾’s.  That pissed me off.

The tempo of the meal was all wrong.  As one waiter removed the plate of my starter another placed my pasta course.  Mains arrived 40 mins after we had sat down and by the time Sam had finished her dessert we still had nearly ½ bottle of wine to drink.  That apart, service was good through out, polite, friendly and knowledgeable.  (We did however get our first ever knock back on request of taking a copy menu).

On to the food – Very tasty.

I had starter of Savoy cabbage stuffed with pork sausages with saffron risotto.  It had a light tomato sauce and the risotto was sandwiched between thin, crispy polenta.

We both had pasta, Sam Osso bucco ravioli that didn’t lack for filling and had a veal stock sauce.  Myself, pasta parcels filled with red onion and Chianti sauce. (Sorry Simon a vegetarian course, you can kick my arse on the pub-crawl!).  Even allowing for lack of meat we both agreed this was the tastiest course of the meal; the caramelised onions produced a strong, slightly sweet flavour.

Mains were for me Pork fillet with mustard crust, sautéed spinach and bortelli beans.  The pork was moist, the dish was very tasty but on the small side.  Sam had grilled chicken breast, spinach and sautéed potatoes.  The dish was fine but very plain and Sam knew she’d chosen badly on presentation.  She felt the gratuitous use of chopped parsley didn’t help and at £14.50 very, very expensive.

I ducked dessert as I didn’t feel like parting with any more money but Sam had a very good (and well sized) slice of chocolate and lemon tart with nougatine sauce.

I found the meal very tasty, though portions were on the small side.  I left bloated due to the speed of the meal rather than full.  Damage for 3 courses and a glass of champagne each, plus a bottle of wine £85 before service, which will encourage me to go back.

A final note, in full agreement of everybody else, Parmesan sticks and breads were great.

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We’d made the reservation 3 weeks earlier and had to be contented with a 7.30 slot, as the restaurant was full.  We arrived at 7.30 and 3 other tables were occupied.  By 8 the restaurant was maybe 1/3 full, by 8.30 a half and when we left at 9, ¾’s.  That pissed me off.

I have had similar experiences in other restaurants, as I'm sure many others have. I am fairly sure on occasions when I book a restaurant a couple of weeks in advance and get the "we can manage 7.30 but we must have the table back by 9.30" that the receptionist is staring at a blank book. This annoys me, as I feel that as I have gone to the trouble of booking ahead, I should get the slot I want and be able to keep the table all evening. They can mess people around that book on the day if they want when, hopefully for them, their reservations book is more full.

I think it's just PR on the part of the restaurant, ensuring they appear to be busy at all times.

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Scott

Interesting post

I had a good meal there, but I have to say that if we had been in & out in 90 mins I would have felt a bit pissed off ( that was the source of one of my dislikes of La Regalade )

I didn't try the pasta, Dr Atkins precludes, but the dishes I saw looked interesting.

With hindsight the portions are small ( with the exception of the beef I have which was ample ) Robin's sweetbreads were small nuggets rather than a large piece and compared unfavourably to Foiliage.

I will definitely try LL again as we had a great meal there.

S

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I enjoyed the food Simon, though more simple than say an expensive French restaurant :wink: , it was very tasty.

There was plenty on the menu that I'd like to try so I'll go back, something on the night made us feel uncomfortable that I just can't put my finger on.  One of those things I guess.  

Anyway I've off for some Friar.................                                :wow:

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Anyway I've off for some Friar.................    

That is what they call, I believe, an overshare.

I am worried that two such young folks have to live out their domestic existence in front of an audience of virtual chums.

I normally have to pay good money for that.....

S

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Scott -- In case you didn't catch it, Jay Rayner's March 10 review of the restaurant had much (negative) to say on tempo and service:

http://www.observer.co.uk/life/story/0,6903,664768,00.html ("The problem is that when the service is as haphazard as it was here, it makes you question the quality of the food. They are only doing themselves down, because almost everything we ate was very good indeed. . . . ")

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Thanks Cabrales, I hadn't seen that review.  I'm in total agreement with Jay.

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I'm in total agreement with Jay.

Well, after a disastrous meal at Empire Restaurant (see upcoming post under "Cobra and Chocolate Scorpions" thread in this forum), I had not eaten much, so proceeded to locanda locatelli. The service was, as Jay and Scott reported, inconsistent.  (The captain-level personnel were friendly and proficient, but certain below them lacked where-with-all).

My bill before tips was 34 pounds because the glass of wine I ordered (yes, French wine is the best in my book and I can be very restrained when it is not meaningfully represented) arrived with the third course (and only when I followed up). :confused: At least the glass was not charged.  Interestingly, when I arrived, Ramsay was sitting there chatting in an animated manner with Locatelli. As I've said before, not relevant because it's Ramsay's food that speaks eloquently (albeit not at the #2-in-the-world level).

I ordered three appetizers plus dessert:

-- Savoy cabbage filled with pork sausages with saffran risotto (6 pounds): This dish attracted my attention because one of my first three-star experiences in France was Senderens' larger cabbage parcels enclosing large slices of foie gras. At Locatelli, the cabbage parcels were flavorful and smaller, with the diced, emolient sausage bringing connotations of "country" and fattiness into play. The risotto was less to my liking, as it had been cooked, made into two diamond-shaped items and then pan-fried. A captain noted it was a recipe from Milan. Overall, the cabbage worked -- nicely sauced too.

-- Minestrone with langoustines (10 pounds): This vegetable soup was bland, despite the utilization of some langoustine stock (unusual in a minestrone) and the addition of two, smallish, decently prepared langoustines. The soup was also laden with too many vegetables (incl. brocoli, carrots, haricot beans, peas, spinach, fava-type beans, onions) when presented to the diner.  These might have been appropriate ingredients in the cooking, but the sheer volume in the bowl led to too much complexity in the dish (a strong pet peeve for me). For me, this dish was poor.

-- Home-made abruzzo style sphaghetti with fresh tuna bolognaise (9 pounds): A nice rendition, with good pasta elements and little meatballs of dense tuna that could easily have passed for veal when flavored (including with respect to texture).  The surrounding crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, with appropriately robust parsley elements, added to the dish. A minor complaint would be that the dish, despite the tuna balls and the parsley, had a certain monotony to it because of the simple (nicely simple) preparation of the tomatoes.

-- Milk ice and jasmin ice cream: This is a combination of the ice cream elements from two desserts, which the restaurant was happy to provide. The milk portion tasted like vanilla, and was nothing special. The jasmin reeked of mint, and was overpowering.

Overall, quite good food (with Zafferano, probably one of the two best Italian restaurants in London, with all due respect to Assaggi); uneven service. (As background, note I do not generally choose Italian food except at Babbo.)

Decor was too beige, although the large mirror-type devices and the use of texture (e.g., dots on the yellow/beige banquettes, lines in wood) did offset that to a limited extent.

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