rainy and cold, me and my friends were greeted warmly with a pleasant female waitress, taking us to our cosy corner seats. looking through the menu, many dishes caught my eye but could not decide what to get or rather how much can i handle. finally, i decided upon sharing a marinated fresh sardines with caramelized fennel and lobster oil and a beef cheek ravioli with crushed squab liver and black truffles with an equally greedy but jetlagged friend. I also ordered a rabbit with brussel sprouts,pancetta and carrot vinaigrette for myself since i love to test how well such a famous place could cook rabbit. (it is difficult to make rabbit as a confit and usually is best in stews)
with patience, our appetizers arrived and without hesitation, i tried everything that was on the table...the sardines were fresh and pretty big, and the beef cheek pasta was well cooked and well balanced with the intensity of black truffles and liver. however, i also stole some of my other friends' goat cheese tortelloni with dried orange and wild fennel pollen which was subtle and appetizing but the most memorable appetizer was their special lamb's tongue chopped and sauteed with tomatoes and served with a three minute egg. It sounded weird but it turned out that this combination of ingredients was amazing and flavourful (wished it was a bigger portion).
then, my second plate, the rabbit came briefly after without any time for digestion. crossing my fingers, i tried my first bite into the meat and surprisingly, this rabbit was so well done (not overcooked like many places) that its meat was tender and falling off the bone. i was very pleased as the last time i had rabbit meat in Raoul's in Soho, it was way over cooked and was tough. then i tasted my other friend's duck with red cabbage,speck and black ceci which was pink on the inside but crispy on the outside. as good as it looks, the duck breast was tasty but a little too sweet for my taste buds. yet another plate was the grilled lamp chops "Scottadita" with sunchokes, grilled onions and lemon..the chops were absolutely well well marinated and the grilled onions added a tint of sweetness to the meat which makes you take a bite after another.
we were all stuffed to our noses, but how can you grade a restaurant without attempting their desserts?so then, i went for the saffron panna cotta with quince,pink peppercorn and quince sorbetto while my partners in crime ordered the chocolate hazelnut cake, pumpkin cheesecake with raisins,creme fraiche and saba and a pistachio and chocolate semifreddo. out of all the sweets, my favourites were the panna cotta and the cheesecake which was quite extraordinary.
our dinner finally ended with a couple of cappuccinos and some free hazelnut cookies and of course a decent bill which is the most painful part. however, i am glad i have tried this excellent restaurant and for those who loves italian, go for it..it is worth the experience and every penny and you can count on a comprehensible menu unlike Lupa (his other restaurant) with a whole list of glossary terms....but keep in mind..reservations are hard, keep calling, and don't give up!!!