Archive for the 'Locanda Locatelli (2)' Category

Locanda Locatelli, London (The Return)

Yes, I know. I too remember the fuss I made over these ‘returns’, but brace yourselves audience for this shall not be the last! You see, this week, W, a friend from a mystery overseas destination is visiting London and so, as she is on holiday and because she was my maiden fine-dining companion, my prime paesan of the dinner plate, particeps criminem initialem meum even, she gets to pick where we eat. However, after following this little diary of mine, with intense interest no doubt, where else does she want to go, but to those places she has already read reviewed here!

It was Saturday night and signorina fancied some Italian. Therefore, as we had a very early flight out the country the next morning (I shall not be giving away the location just yet), we scheduled an early dinner at LL. It was a reservation for three as a friend of W’s, C, joined us. In the taxi, I tried to recall the dishes that appealed to me the first time round, but which I had been unable to order (and Lord knows I did order a lot); a couple stood out in my memory, but I also hoped that the menu would have since been updated. The chances of this were somewhat slim, given that it had only been six or so weeks since my last visit, but in truth, I was not too concerned; after all, tonight I had the delightful company of two charming young ladies, so the food was to be only the facilitator/catalyst/grease for tonight’s entertainment and not the distraction itself.

Arriving at LL, I was delighted to be greeted by Daniele, the gentleman who took care of me before. He had been an invaluable source of suggestion when ordering and seemed to possess a good understanding of my tastes and preferences already. He promptly seated us at a large table under those large, latticed street windows in a corner booth that would have comfortably held a couple more. Shortly, a plate of bresola e rucola was delivered to our table together with that basket of bread.

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Locanda Locatelli, London

My very good meal at L’Anima last week made me hungry for more Italian; so having whetted my appetite with somewhere new, I wanted to taste what London’s more established Italian restaurants had to offer. The obvious options were Locanda Locatelli, the River Café and Zafferano, but as the River Café is closed for refurbishment until August, it was really a choice between two. Both have a Michelin star and share a common past; Georgio Locatelli cut his teeth at Zafferano, earning it its star, before setting up LL and earning himself another. I figured I could not really go wrong with either and, probably attracted by its more glamorous reputation, I settled on LL – infamous favourite of the famous.

The restaurant occupies an unassuming annex of the Churchill Intercontinental (rather apt given that locanda is Italian for inn) and is accessible from both within the hotel and Seymour Street. A simple silver signage spelling out ‘Locanda Locatelli’, chiselled into the building’s steel façade and backlit with bright white light, serves to signify Giorgio’s presence. Within, the décor is, well, rather controversial; many hate it, many love it. Personally, I find it extremely difficult to define, but after much consideration, I have decided that it has the feel of an underwater seventies disco. Yes, you did read that right.

The interior, boasting the usual hallmarks of designer David Collins – upholstered couches, mirrors, good lighting – is at once modern and retro, chic and casual. Luxuriously deep, low, leather seating takes the form of cosy, comfy banquettes, curvy, swish swivel chairs and swanky, hemispherical centre booths. Circular, convex fish-eye mirrors, fittingly oversized, line the main wall and provide even those diners with their back to the busy dining space a hint of what is happening out in the crowd. The dining area, though large, is crammed with intimately-spaced tables. Its openness is further busied and broken up with floor-to-ceiling Tetris-block wooden pillars whilst booths are separated from each other by glass panels etched with seaweed-like squiggles. Large, latticed windows line the outside wall, but are really just for show; preventing hoi polloi from off the street seeing inside this exclusive eatery. The colour scheme is dominated by light, earthy, honey tones; creamy lemon-chiffon and beige benches, streaky wood-panelling of warm copper and ochre shades of brown; a main wall of dark algae green; dimmed amber lights; all offset by bright crisp white napery lying thickly on the tabletops. When full, which is always, there is a terrific buzz in the room. The chitter chatter of diners clearly enjoying themselves drowns out the gentle jazz that plays in the background. Mood lighting and strategic spotlights add to the busy, fun vibes emanating from the crowd, giving the restaurant a groovy ambience.

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