Having visited Locanda Locatelli on two previous occasions, (reviewed once), and with both visits falling short of what you would expect from a “Premier League” restaurant - another visit seemed out of the question. However, after reading a recent professional review of Locanda Locatelli, (following a makeover), I tentatively booked a return visit, to celebrate my wife’s birthday. She’s a big fan of Mr Locatelli. I can’t recall much from our first two visits, apart from some underwhelming and un-Italian “sous-vide” dishes, some very aggressive salad dressings and “patchy” service. On this occasion however - every aspect was excellent.
The food was first rate, with a special mention for the oxtail ravioli which were simply outstanding. I tentatively asked could we share a main-course sized portion as a “primo” and a quick “Certainly sir, no problem” was forthcoming. This meant that we could both order a “secondi” and boy – were they good. My wife’s rabbit was, (to use her words), “In a different class” to the rabbit she ate a few weeks ago, in another highly regarded restaurant in London, (that actually specialises in game). The polenta that accompanied the rabbit was again, in the words of my wife, the best polenta she had ever tasted – Italian trips included. My beef-cheek was so deliciously braised – you could have eaten it with a spoon. The item that indicated how much the kitchen had improved came in the form of the simple “deep-fried courgette” side-dish. Courgette fries are not easy to get right. If the batter is too heavy, you simply end up with large lumps of batter and courgette. Too light and the courgette strips absorb too much of the cooking medium and they turn into a limp, greasy mess. The best example we had eaten up to this visit was in a contemporary Italian restaurant in Victoria. The fries there are very good – these were outstanding. They simply could not be improved upon.
So after our three courses, we were wondering could we fit in a dessert. We asked for, (and received), a ten minute pause before deciding to have desserts. I chose the special of the day and my wife, her perennial favourite, Tiramisu. The dessert of the day was a pineapple and pear tartlet with crystallised rosemary and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream - simply gorgeous. The pastry of the tart was wafer-thin and crisp, the filling not overly sweet - with the occasional flavour-burst provided by the rosemary. My wife’s Tiramisu was excellent - but like her starter of Burrata – hard to muck up to be honest.
The wines that were recommended to accompany the desserts were excellent, as was the bottle of Primitivo from the excellent Altemura, that we drank with the meal. Post and pre-prandial drinks were also as good as you would expect from an establishment with such a pedigree. In fact the whole lunchtime experience was an unqualified success - on all counts.
We will be back.