Thursday, October 17, 2013

Murano

Dinner was at Murano, an Italian restaurant, if you had not already guessed.

Murano has one Michelin star. It was originally part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings. Angela Hartnett, a protégé of Gordon Ramsay was the head chef. In 2010 she left Gordon Ramsay Holdings and took Murano with her, becoming it’s owner. Ironically, Murano shares a wall with Tamarind, an Italian restaurant, if you had not already guessed.

This is a relatively small restaurant with just 55 seats. As we were seated we were given the menu, a short seasonal one thankfully, along with a wine list. I asked for a glass of the house champagne to start, while HRH The Queen of Kutch get herself a Peach Bellini which is Peach puree with Prosecco the Italian equivalent of champagne. The Bellini was excellent. There is good reason for it to be one of Italy’s most popular drinks.

We looked at the menus. This was a concept I had not come across earlier. It was a fixed price so if you had two courses it was X if you had three courses it was Y if you four the price increased and so on and so forth. The other thing was that the menu was broken down into 6 sections with 5 choices each. So you had 5 starters, 5 meats, 5 fish, 5 Pasta, 5 Vegetarian and of course deserts. You had the choice of ordering anything you wanted as a starter and anything as a main course. You could order two or three or four if you wanted and the more you ordered the smaller the portions became. Basically, the more you ordered the more you paid but the smaller the portion became. A bit confusing to read, but I hope you got it. We decided to have three courses. A starter, a main and a dessert each.

While waiting for the food, we were served just-fried Truffle Arancini. These are little Rice balls, made with left over Risotto which are coated in breadcrumbs and fried. These were really hot, really just fried and totally delicious. Along with this we got Parmesan crisps. Once again really good. Then we got bread – a Focaccia, some Rosemary Grissini [or soup sticks as we call them in India] and brown bread. This came with some really good olive oil, not butter. Nice touch, we were in an Italian restaurant. If this was not enough, we also got 4 slices each of two Salamis to eat with the bread.

The delicious Arancini. We had already eaten two before I took the photograph.

The Parmesan crisps


Then the food arrived. HRH the Queen of Kutch had ordered Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese as her starter. When this arrived, I was suspicious; I could not see any Osso Bucco. The Risotto was a lovely Golden pool with some Veal Jus drizzled on top with specks of Saffron showing. On digging deeper, the Osso Bucco was uncovered. They had deboned the Osso Bucco, placed it on the bottom and laid the Risotto on top. She pronounced it sensational. I took a couple of spoonfuls and it was. It was really good. As a contrast I am giving you a photo of an Osso Bucco we had in Milan, the home of this dish. See how differently they are plated.

Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese at Murano. The shredded veal is below the rice. Note the texture of the Risotto. A pool.



Two examples of Osso Bucco served to me in Milan.


I had ordered Gnocchi with some Fontina Cheese, Mushroom and Spinach with a garnish of Speck [cured Pork]. The dish as a whole was not too exciting, but, the quality of the Gnocchi was out of this world, pillows of happiness, clouds of joy would be words I would use to describe the Gnocchi. I did not see any Fontina so I asked where it was. Have a look at the photo, do you see it? The answer I got was that the Fontina was blended into the Gnocchi mixture. Maybe, but I am not convinced. 

Gnochi with Mushroom and Spinach garnished with Speck. Can you see Fontina?

For her main Course HRH the Queen had ordered the Sea Bass with Artichoke, Smoked Cod Roe and Confit Lemon. The fish was beautifully cooked; the skin was crisp to the point of shatter. Looking at the photograph please see how much care has been taken when scoring the skin, even cuts, evenly spaced. But by the same token look at the photograph again, can you see any Lemon Confit? I cannot.

Sea Bass with Artichoke. See how carefully the skin has been scored. No Lemon Confit visible.

I am sorry to sound so questioning. This sounds a lot like our dear India, where food is wholly mis-described on menus with components either missing, or appearing in microscopic quantities or simply being fudged. Anyway the food was really good, whether or not components were missing. Plates were licked clean, well not really, but you get the picture.

For my main course I had a Roast Pork Belly with Apple Compote and Glazed Shrimp, a sort of Surf and Turf. As garnish there was some crisp lettuce, cucumber slices and some more shrimp dressed with an Orange mayonnaise. This was a good tasty dish. I was very happy, the crackling was nicely crisped.

Roast Pork Belly, Glazed Prawn and Apple Compote

Dinner being completed we were served a Basil Sorbet. This was quite refreshing. The vivid green colour was admirable. The Sorbet itself was slightly sweet and strongly Basil flavoured. It had a great texture. Very nice.

Basil Sorbet.

Desserts were served. HRH the Queen asked for a Panna Cotta with Figs. I ordered a Brown Butter Tart with Plums. Both desserts were excellent and the presentation of the Panna Cotta was beautiful. I must say that the texture of the Panna Cotta was absolutely silky. My dessert was more ordinary.

Panna Cotta with Figs

Brown Butter tart with Plums

The evening was most pleasant. The wine was excellent, the food good and the service efficient. One aspect that must be mentioned is that the staff was just so friendly. That was really refreshing; they had a smile for everyone and conversations with all. It was the staff that made the evening so much better.


All in all, a very good evening with good food. This is not a classic pizza, baked pasta and red sauce type Italian restaurant. This is much finer food and a much finer dining experience. The Italians claim that they invented French food with the marriage of Catherine de Medici from Italy to the man who became Henry II of France. A new elegance and sophistication was brought to French food with that marriage as Catherine brought with her a retinue of cooks. The food at Murano like that, a new elegance and sophistication, while still retaining the basics.   

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