Do you ever find yourself thinking about one of your favourite trips? What made it so special? Was it the sun, the fun or the food? Often enough the food and drink part of a holiday is what makes it extremely memorable for me. One afternoon, I found myself dreaming about my trip to Tuscany, where I was this time last year, thanks to the jolly ol’ Facebook memories giving me a little throwback.
All I wanted to be doing was sipping on Ferrari champagne, overlooking the vineyards whilst consuming copious amounts of pasta, tiramisu and other Italian delights. Alas, once I broke out of my daydream, the harsh reality hit and I was still in grey, wet London. Whilst London couldn’t offer me the sun, there was still the possibility of getting my authentic fix of Italian food.
That very evening I found myself in a familiar part of the city, in High Street Kensington to be exact. I gathered up a couple of my favourite ladies and off we set out to have an Italian dinner at the gorgeous and elegant Brunello restaurant, the resident eatery at the Baglioni Hotel. I was determined to get my fix and partially fulfil my huge desire to be back in Italy.
Setting down into the cosy bar area of Brunello, we sat down for a classic Italian appretivo. I ordered a glass of Ferrari bubbles, whilst Emma and Binny ordered a cocktail each. Whilst we nattered and catch up, sipping away on our delightful concoctions, we were brought out a platter of different small bites to enjoy alongside our drinks. It’s typically Italian not to drink on an empty stomach, following through with the Italian roots of the Baglioni hotels, they brought a piece of Italy to heart of London.
Being truly British folk, we never can never turn down generous hospitality offered to us, even though we had dinner reservations in the restaurant.
As we moved into the restaurant and settled down for dinner, Emma and Binny both joined me with a glass of Ferrari, these girls can’t turn down a glass of bubbles. Ferrari brings back amazing memories of my Ferrari paired dinner at one Michelin starred La Torre at Castello Del Nero – a beautiful Tuscan luxury hotel. Its premium fizz is like no other that have ever tried from Italy and if it’s on the drinks menu, you can rest assured that I will be ordering it!
Our meal started with an amuse bouche of carrot rolled in crumb, with sweet potato crisps, lychee puree and glazed hazelnuts.
The three of us decided to share a trio of antipasti between us. Our array consisted of a fresh burrata served with roasted tomatoes, taggiasche olives and mixed leaves, beef carpaccio with fresh artichoke & parmesan and Venetian pasta with borlotti beans, thyme oil and parmesan cheese.
All three dishes were fantastic but if I had to choose a favourite it would have to be the Venetian pasta with borlotti beans. I was a totally unique dish and i’ve had nothing quite like it before, especially with pasta and beans in the same dish. It was rather savoury made with creamy seasoned sauce and al dente pasta, so delicious. After all, anything with pasta in is a real winner for me.
We moved onto our primi, which had to be a selection of pasta dishes. I mean, when in the presence as the Italians, you do as the Italians do.
Binny ordered her favourite cacio e pepe with homemade Italian taglioni pasta. There was a huge thumbs up from Binny from across the table.
Emma knew exactly what she was going to have and ordered the homemade crab ravioli with prawns, courgettes and spring onion – a very pretty dish!
Personally, I was sold by the black truffle risotto with 24 month aged parmesan cheese. I also had confirmation that it was a fantastic dish by a fellow friend and she was not wrong, it was an absolutely divine dish. It was creamy with soft, slow cooked risotto rice with a strong black truffle flavour from the small shavings and finished off with melting parmesan cheese. It was heavenly on a cold day.
For our secondi, Emma and I were torn between the roasted lamb with truffle potatoes (can you tell I love truffle?) served with thyme and potato sauce and the aubergine parmigiana. Instead of being torn between two, we each ordered one and shared both – the benefits of going out for dinner with your close friends. I’m sure my Italian friends will be overjoyed that I shared a bit of their culture of sharing various different dishes with one another at various times during our meal.
As soon as Binny read the description of the breaded prawns with aromatic herbs, celery and green apple cream, she knew she had to order it for her secondi. Was it the right choice? Totally! Binny was in absolute heaven with her prawn dish.
I had throughly enjoyed every course up until dessert. This is when the tables turned and I became rather disappointed by what I was served. The crème brûlée was certainly not up to scratch, especially for someone who loves crème brûlée and will often order it if it’s on the menu at any time, which is exactly why I did in an Italian restaurant. However, my advice would be to stick to what they are good at, which is the Italian desserts because Emma ordered the tiramisu and it was to die for. I missed out on the chance to have my dessert, but atleast I got to have a spoonful of Emma’s dessert to prove what the Brunello team are truly capable of.
Overall, I feel that Brunello has a lot of potential as an authentic Italian restaurant in London but with all hotel restaurants they can often be a little hit and miss. However, with some fine tuning, Brunello will be a true hidden gem that more people need to dine at. Would I visit again? For sure, but i’d give it some time before I do to allow for the fine tuning to take place and for Brunello to be at its best.
Until next time…