My friends and I make a point of getting together for dinner once a month. London life can get busy and if you don’t make the effort, you could go months without seeing each other. Usually our dinners aren’t very fancy affairs, but on special occasions we like to push the boat out a little and this month there were two occasions worthy of a celebration. Initially booked for my birthday last week, one of the gang also recently got engaged. Yay!
So as it was my turn to pick, I decided on something that I knew TBH (The Better Half) isn’t all that keen on but that I absolutely love, a good Italian restaurant! And for me, there was only one – THEO RANDALL at The Inter-Continental.
I’ve been watching Theo on Saturday cooking shows for a while and I just love his approach to cooking. It’s all about quality and using the best ingredients to create the most perfect dish. Simplicity is also key and you won’t find a million different ingredients in his dishes. What I love most though, is that Theo Randall is not just a name above the door, like so many other “celebrity chefs”, but that you’ll find him running the pass and getting out and talking to his customers on any given service. I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself on the night we went and I have to say, what a charmer! He really took the time to talk to all of us and by the time he left our table, he had us all swooning!
Theo won major brownie points when we sat down to eat and a glass of Prosecco arrived with his compliments. As if I didn’t love him enough already! While we decided on what to eat, two different types of bread were brought to the table. There was a bruschetta with tomato that was packed with garlic and toasted to the perfect crispness. One in the party thought there was too much garlic in this, but you can never have too much garlic in my opinion. The other bread was the softest, springiest focaccia. It was salted on top with some rosemary and it was as light as a feather. Just gorgeous! Thank goodness there was only one (HUGE) piece of each for everyone because I am sure I would’ve stuffed myself with a lot more of it and completely ruined the rest of the meal.
I was really torn on what to have for my starter. I loved the sound of the Beef Carpaccio, but in the end I went with a simple Mozzarella salad with figs and a balsamic dressing (£13). I figured that the quality of this mozzarella would put the chewy plastic supermarket versions in the shade, and I wasn’t wrong. Mozzarella in general can be pretty tasteless, but the figs used in the salad had the reddest and sweetest flesh. The peppery rocket added spice, with little bits of basil running through the salad and the glaze just brought it all together. See what I mean about simplicity? Three main ingredients was all it took to make an amazing dish!
My main meal was a relatively easy choice. I don’t cook fish much at home so I usually have it when I eat out. How can you go to an Italian restaurant and not have pasta, I hear you say! And I did have a bit of plate envy when one of the girls ordered the Cappalletti with Veal Ragu – but the piece of fish that I had has to be the best piece of fish I have ever had in a restaurant! I ordered the Roasted Monkfish wrapped in pancetta with a caper sauce (£31). Perfection on a plate! Everything just complimented each other beautifully. Again, not very many ingredients, but everything just worked!
Dessert was compliments of Mr Randall. As the meal was to celebrate my birthday, he brought out a platter of the most amazing desserts with a cheeky little chocolate “Happy Birthday” message on the plate. I was smitten!
The platter included his signature Lemon tart that absolutely zinged with Sicilian lemons. I’m not much of a dessert fan, so this little tart was just up my street. If I ever do have dessert though, it is usually Tiramisu, which also featured on the platter. Boozy and rich, just the way I like it. There was also a Vanilla pannecotta with some alcohol soaked raspberries, not my favourite but I think that is personal preference rather than quality of pud! Also featured was a flourless chocolate cake that was to die for! Totally indulgent, but not too sickly sweet. Our newly engaged friend would like this as her wedding cake it was that good! So Theo if you’re reading this, please could we have the recipe?
Service was friendly and efficient and the staff were only too happy to stop and chat to us. Theo Randall definitely leads by example in this area, making the whole atmosphere relaxed.
It’s not a cheap night out - we averaged around £90 per head for 5 of us (including 3 bottles of wine at £45 each) but the quality of cooking and the ingredients used is absolutely first class. That, along with the little personal touches throughout our evening went a long way in making the whole experience one to remember - proving that you don’t have to be stuffy to hold a Michelin star!
Until we eat again!