For our end-of-year outing our Italian class booked a lunch here. I had no input into choosing the venue so I was very happy to see that we were dining in one of The Dubliner – 100 Best Restaurants. Two birds, one stone and all that. I hadn’t eaten here for about two years so I was looking forward to revisiting it. I harboured memories of great food served by friendly Italians. I was hoping that nothing had changed much.
They opened the place specially for our group of eighteen Italophiles. Our reservation was for twelve thirty but, unfortunately, some members of the group turned up unfashionably late. The upshot of this tardiness was that our orders were not taken until almost one fifteen. We had a special menu offering two courses for nineteen Euro. I wasn’t particularly taken by any of the three starters – smoked salmon platter, bruschetta al pomodoro and memory fails me on what the third item was. I suspected that the bruschetta portions would be enormous (based on the ones served in their sister restaurant L’Officina). I was right. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to someone who couldn’t manage to eat all three of the slices with which she was served. I scored a free starter as she implored me to take one of her slices. It was delicious and it left me wondering why it is impossible to recreate these flavours at home. This bruschetta has to be the simplest and yet all of us who tried it that day agreed that our home-made ones are not nearly as good. We concluded that it must be something to do with the olive oil used.
It was unfortunate that I was on a time restriction that afternoon. I had to leave at two forty-five at the latest. But I figured that two hours fifteen minutes was plenty of time for lunch, even for lunch eaten at an Italian pace. I was wrong. At ten past two the main courses started to arrive. I had ordered mushroom risotto and others had ordered pasta with a bolognaise type sauce, cod with rosemary potatoes or chicken done with sage and wrapped with prosciutto. Of course the risottos were the last dishes brought to the table. So at two fifteen I was starting my main course and I knew I would not be able to stay for dessert. I started my ‘long awaited for’ risotto and there was nothing amazing about it. It was fine but not outstanding in any way. We had a white wine from San Gimignano.
I had to leave before the dishes were removed so I didn’t get to see, let alone taste, the pannacota (and this is one of the view desserts I ever actually order). I left my money on the table, an awful lot more than I should have, as I figured we were probably hosting our teacher. I hadn’t taken many notes as I thought I could look things up on their website afterwards. Another mistake! Their website is a disaster. When I clicked on the ‘menu’ icon I was not directed to any menus. There was no wine list on the site and it wasn’t even easy to find photos.