Hmmmmmmm………where to start……..??? We went out to celebrate our 5 years marriage on the 28th of May 2016 so:
We went to the best restaurant of the world…!!! (http://www.theworlds50best.com/)
So this must become the best review of the world…. and the best score as well……??? I’m afraid not 😦
For over 12 years I have this as a NR.1 on my bucket list, to finally go to a 3*** Michelin restaurant. Having visited hundreds of high level restaurants in my career, as well as 41 times a 1* Michelin and 12 times a 2** Michelin restaurant, I never had the chance to go 3***….. And in my favorite country to one of my favorite chefs. (please have a look at the documentary Chefs Table on Netflix, you understand what I mean…!!!). So expectations were high, extremely high, maybe unbeatable for any chef??
Because of this, and it is hard for me to say this out loud, I was very disappointed. I dare to take it a bit further, this was the letdown of the year, almost a mistake…. The best in the world??? Not for me, not even close, not even best of the year….
And trust me, I have been waiting 3 weeks now before writing this, hoping it will come to me, it just had to kick in or afterwards I will convince myself of the unique experience…..but IT DID NOT HAPPEN !
And please do not get me wrong, not at all, I have the utmost respect for Massimo Botura, for his staff and restaurant, for the concept and the quality and after all I am just an amateur critic with a personal opinion. Having worked in a few professional restaurants myself (as a chef) I try to understand what it must be, and how hard or even impossible it is to maintain this high quality, 100% perfection, day after day and year after year. So once more, all my respect and understanding go out to the full team, and since the rest of the world has the opposite opinion, it can only be me (and my experienced wife). But I just did not get it, so please if anyone can, please explain it to me…..write your opinion or help me please… because I really want to get it. Why am I this disappointment? Where did I go wrong or what was better here that I did not see or taste? Or am I just to spoiled at the age of 36? Is this the difference between North and South? or different generations or is it like art maybe? For me this was a “Piet Mondriaan” painting….. (google it), worth a lot of money and was unique when created, but I don’t understand these paintings as well…..
What did we eat? We went for the menu that made this restaurant famous and is praised for many many years:
Wine pairing —120€
- Memory of a mortadella sandwich
- Croccantino of foie gras
- An eel swimming up the Po River
- Pasta and beans
- Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in different textures and temperatures
- The crunchy part of the lasagna
- Beautiful, psychedelic spin-painted veal, not flame grilled
- Caesar salad in Emilia
- Sweet potato ravioli from Parma to Mantova
- Oops! I dropped the lemon tart
The perfect Mortadella mousse…. and perfect bread…… But I can make this at home as well…. great idea, great execution but not so special, sorry.
One of my favorite dishes (and the least favorite of my wife….) Lovely almond praliné, perfect melting foie gras ice
Beautiful eel, great marinade, clean dish and presentation.
Pasta&Beans, contemporary view of a classic, nice taste fun structure, no WOW effect for me, just good.
5 ages of Parmesan, this is one of the dishes I came for! and maybe the main reason of disappointment…. while everybody is lyric about it. For me it missed complexity, meanwhile understanding it needs no complexity and is meant to be pure and simple, but still…..it tasted nice, but I hoped for more… I have had deeper tasting pureness of Parmesan then I did here…
The crunchy part of lasagne, also expecting so much. It was a blend tasting piece of semi soggy “kroepoek”. Maybe the worst of all dishes?
THIS IS MY HERO DISH
The only one I will actually remember all my life. The color and way of presenting, the veal that was never seared! just cooked sous-vide which made it possible to eat it trough a straw 😉 And then every individual perfect type of sauce, and all together just a bomb! If all other 9 dishes would be the same I would have cried of happiness…
Ceaser salad…. or at least one perfect leaf…. Once again, this is a level of cooking that is beyond me. Yes it is perfection, yes most parts of a Ceaser salad kinda were there, but it never kicked in, it was still a leaf of salad to me…
1 raviolo, just 1….??? filled with a base of sweet potato and vanilla? Tasted like pumpkin as well….. Great as an amuse and great as a fun snack, but to call this a course? I looked at my wife while eating this and she had the same facial expression, WTF is this? Is this 3*** worthy? Then better next time I’ll be eating 1* or 2**…..
Had to be said, nice drinks and some creative parts of our “wine menu”
And then the most famous dessert in the world;
I am thinking that if I had never heard of it, and it was the first time I saw it, I would have been WOWWED…. Maybe because of the expectation again? And yes it looks funny and is a fun thought, but at least let it taste amazing!!!
Just a sand biscuit with a lemon curd? I wanted to cry….
And some sweets with the coffee, but again and again and again….sorry, but being from Belgium, I eat this quality of chocolate pralines on a daily level….
So my good and bad points, sorry but I’ll have to be honest:
+ Great wine pairing, some unique wines we have had. (but worth €120…???)
+ The small restaurant is divided in “private rooms” which makes you feel cosy
+ Yummie bread and the highest quality of olive oil ever
+ Great build-up in the full menu, you feel this took years of perfectioning
+ Very original plates, if this is your first time eating out, not knowing what to expect, you will experience a real positive shock !!!
– This is a machine, operating on full throttle! No personal touch, no warm feeling, just a perfectly organized high tempo machine….. a new dish every 15 minutes, quickly in, quickly out. No inspiration or unique feeling at all…. The waiters were almost running, and I felt they wanted all guests out within 3 hours maximum….
– I am used to getting “amuses” to start, just some creativity of the chef, or cleansing of the taste buds, but not here! Sit down, get a drink and within 15 minutes the 1st course is served…..
– I wanted an appetitive! Just a Vodka-Martini, a Gin-Tonic or some Campari, but the answer was NO! just champagne for €25,- a glass…. No thanks, and thank you for letting me feel like a king….(not!)
– Can someone take my jacket/colbert maybe? It hung on my seat, getting wrinkled….where is the service?
– The table cloths were not even ironed, all wrinkled, or is this part of the “nonchalant” style maybe?
– No dresscode? On the table next to us arrived a couple (unfortunately Flemish people) wearing an old short and flipflops, like he was walking into a beachbar?!
– Yes good wine, but just getting a minimum of 3 sips per glass…. very small portions and never a re-fill…
– Overall, we started at 19.30 and were outside after 10 courses + coffee exactly at 22.30 so a 3 hours slot was perfectly filled…. very disappointing, we even went somewhere else for some drinks and to end the evening in style, in stead of staying here…
– When we asked in the beginning of the evening if Massimo was cooking himself we got a very strong and positive YES as an answer. So when we asked at the end of the menu if we could maybe see him or the kitchen, just a quick glimpse, they told us he was in Canada….??!! So another small letdown 😦
Staff: I cannot say even 1 bad thing about them. Just perfection, like robots. (maybe I do not like this, but I cannot give any negative points for boring perfection ;-)) 10 out of 10
Coziness: It felt private and small, but because of the rush and the 28 waiters running around, I never felt at ease…. so a 8.5 out of 10 for me…
Food: Of course, nothing is bad or even mediocre, not at all, everything is exactly as it should be, and for me that was NOT enough…..Had some of the best dishes combined with some big disappointments, also the 9th wine pairing was not good at all for me. So I am going to give it a maximum of 9 out of 10….
Price: This is maybe the hardest thing, maybe because I am Dutch? But I honestly believe in the perfect price / quality balance. We paid €700,- for 3 hours of good food without a soul…. You just feel they are making this menu maybe for the 1200th night in a row, just copy after copy…. So a devastating 5 out of 10 for me.
Overall the unexpected score of 8.1 out of 10