London-Venetian cooking is not the type you find in those little osteria where the vaporetti-drivers go. It’s usually a pretty darn swanky affair. You don’t get much grander than Mark Birley’s Mayfair club, Harry’s Bar, for example, and Eurotrash-haven Cipriani – a spin-off from the original Harry’s Bar in La Serenissima – has established itself as quite a staple of the gossip columns.
News of the arrival of the Marylebone newcomer we review today – where the emphasis seems to be solidly on the menu, rather than merely providing a backdrop for parading the bella figura – was therefore rather promising. Initial impressions on entering the former Eddalino premises are favourable too. They may be little altered, but the place now has a buzz that was often elusive in the old days. Service is on the ball too.
The menu is something of an ‘education’ – offering many combinations you don’t often see elsewhere – and helps you understand why the place seems to be gathering quite a following.
Disenchantment, however, began to set in with the bread: an appetising-looking selection, admittedly, but one in which nothing tasted of much. Broccoli ravioli with scallops sounded very intriguing (especially in Italian), but similarly failed to excite. Five big ravioli, cooked well beyond al dente, and filled with broccoli mousse was as boring as it sounds, and the scallops, though good, didn’t integrate with the rest of the dish. Liver with crunchy polenta looked as if it might be a nice variation of a usual theme. But nope: more blandness. The recommended desert was profiteroles with three sorts of chocolate. Why not use just one sort, and worry about getting some oomph into the tastes and textures of the dish?
So much promise. So unfulfilled.