Refettorio - City
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
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