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Refettorio - City of London
by Victoria Gill

Cosseted within the confines of the regally fronted Crowne Plaza Hotel, Refettorio is a winning fusion of slick, city dining and back to basics Italian cuisine.

Many of the staff at Giorgio 'Locanda' Locatelli's most recent venture hail from Southern Italy, meaning they're as passionate about the food as the clientele (the couple on the table next to us couldn't stop coming back for the Rabbit Ragu which, they told us, was delicate and well-balanced).

A traditional-style deli sits to the front of the restaurant, complete with refrigerators displaying long hinds of pig - this place is not for vegetarians - and everyone, from the staff through to the diners, wears black.

The high protein content of the Convivium menu, comprised of cured meats, cheeses and salads, is akin to a fantasy for disciples of the Atkins regime. The salumi we sampled were absolutely succulent, the flavours and textures of each being an experience in themselves. The cheeses were mature and complex, while the polenta, zucchini and seafood fritti came in a lighter-than-light batter and a sweet and sour sauce to accompany with.

For mains my companion opted for the quail Risotto, a fabulous choice, wonderfully rich, glutinous and densely-flavoured with the meat ever so moist and tender. In fact, I found myself foregoing my positively gargantuan slab of Chargrilled Tuna with black olives and fresh oregano (I wasn't given the option of how I'd like it cooked and it came a little too bloody for my liking) to tuck into the quail. The exclusively Italian wine list is impressive, with over a hundred to choose from, including a steeply priced Prosecco and a short selection of dessert wines.

The food here is heavy, so it was a relief to find the Tiramisu as an interpretation of the real thing, with layers of coffee-flavoured whipped cream leading down to an icecream-centred sponge. The Millefeuille with Marsala Cream was equally light and fresh-tasting - the presentation of each as you'd expect from an haute hotel eatery.

Refettorio Crowne Plaza City Hotel
19 New Bridge Street
London EC4V 6DB
tel: 020 7438 8052


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