Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Salman Khan - The perfect crime.

On 6th May 2015, Salman Khan was convicted of various offences resulting from his killing and injuring several men when he drove into them. He was drunk. Of course all of you will be well aware of the facts, and may have formed your own opinions on what happened, on the role of the judiciary, the police the power of money and so on and so forth.

This conviction was appealed in the Bombay High Court, and, by a massive 305 page judgement passed on 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th December 2015 by His Lordship the Hon’ble Justice A R Joshi, the conviction was set aside. You can read it here.

I have the 305 page Judgement and have read it. I confess, it is difficult to read. First it is in language that is, to put it mildly, challenging! Secondly, I do not practice Criminal law, so my understanding of the technical aspects are non-existent.

Be that as it may, I have read the Judgement, and I believe, subject to the caveats and disclaimers below, that it is by and large, correct.

Here are my caveats and disclaimers:

1.                I believe that Salman was drunk, was driving and did kill and injure the poor workers.

2.                For a conviction, the case against the accused should be proven beyond reasonable doubt. I honestly believe that in this case, the prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt, as you shall see.

3.                Yes, Salman and team probably used all means, fair and foul to mess up the entire investigation as well as delay the trial. Now let’s be honest, any one of us would do the same, the only question would be how far would we go?

4.                I have read the sanctimonious column written by Julio Ribeiro of how Ravindra Patil a very crucial witness suddenly came into money. Yes, he probably did. My question is that the right honourable Mr Ribeiro knew 14 years ago that Ravindra Patil came into money. Why was Mr Ribeiro silent all these years? You can read Ribeiro's article here.

5.                As I said earlier, on the technical aspects mentioned in the Judgement, I have no view and often cannot understand them. So, forgive me for this.

6.                It is clear that the investigation was botched up [for obvious reasons] the police were corrupt or corrupted as were the prosecution lawyers also for obvious reasons. Could or should His Lordship the Hon’ble Justice A R Joshi taken further steps in his Judgement – passing strictures, ordering enquiries, prosecuting delinquent officers for perjury – is something that troubles me. I believe he should have done something. In fact he has done nothing. Was he correct in simply being a Court of Appeal and dealing with the questions of law placed before him I do not know. In a case so high profile should he have intervened, or is it just too late or not possible?

7.                Please do bear in mind that this Judgement has been passed by a Court of Appeal. The basic evidence and facts have already been disclosed in the trial. Hence giving fresh does not happen in an Appeal. The Appeal Court has to only determine the correctness of the original judgement on points of law, not fact.

8.                The story is probably not over, what with the Maharashtra Government and citizens wanting to take this further. I believe that in light of the evidence, which I am going to give you later, it will be most difficult to change the acquittal. I do believe that on the technical aspects, where there is an interpretation of a cited case law, there may be scope by way of a different interpretation or fresh case law to change the Judgement.

9.                I hope that Salman is jailed.

10.             I apologise for the formatting. I am copy pasting from the High Court Judgement which is in PDF. This causes difficulties in formatting in Word.

Now let me demonstrate to you, how the acquittal came about. I will give you 3 instances. They are simply shocking. These 3 or 4 instances are extracted by me from the Judgement. They are NOT my own work.

Which road was Salman driving on?

Yes folks the very basic issue. This is unclear. Let me give you some background. Hill Road and Turner Road in Bandra are like the two vertical lines of the letter `H’. Manuel Gonsalves and St Andrews Road are like the horizontal line in the letter `H’. Manuel Gonsalves and St Andrews Road are parallel to each other and perpendicular to Hill Road and Turner Road. American Express Laundry which is where the accident took place is on Hill Road directly at the exit of St Andrews Road. This is what the Judgement says:

So far as the route taken by the car, it is an admitted position    and substantiated by the evidence of Investigating Officer and mainly PW­27 Mr. Shengal i.e. the FIRat two places the route by which the car was driven is mentioned as from “St. Andrews Road” to “Hill Road”.

However, it is also an admitted position that the initial words were “Manuel Gonsalves” and these words are cancelled by slanting marks and above these words  “St.    Andrews” is written. It is significant  that though this factual position is admitted by PW­27 there is no explanation as to why this alteration was made though it was the defence that the vehicle took the route via Manuel Gonsalves road and   the vehicle came to the Hill    Road by taking right turn from Manuel Gonsalves road and not from St. Andrews Road.

The Judge returns to this point later in the Judgement. He says:

Again at this juncture it is to be mentioned that there is               interpolation in the contents of the      First Information Report regarding the route taken by the car while    coming to the Hill Road. The earlier written words as to “Manuel Gonsalves” are deleted and the    words “St. Andrews” have been  inserted.

This is done at two places where this reference is coming in the FIR. At the cost of repetition, it must be mentioned that there is no explanation from the investigating agency or by the Investigating Officer or the officer who recorded the FIR as to how the 
change of name in the route has appeared in the First Information Report. This circumstance is to be viewed in juxtaposition with the defence of the accused that the vehicle had taken the route from      Manuel Gonsalves road and then came to Hill Road. Even this is the     substantive evidence of DW­1   as detailed earlier in paragraph­3 of his evidence before the Sessions Court :

“3. I then took the vehicle on Linking Road, then on Gonsalves Road and took the right turn for going to Hill Road. Our vehicle came on Hill Road. Our vehicle proceeded at some distance on hill Road, then the front left tyre of our vehicle burst, thereby our vehicle pulled towards the left side. I tried to turn my steering wheel but it had become hard to turn. I also tried to apply the brakes, but by then the vehicle had climbed the stairs of the Laundry. Our vehicle then stopped.”

So what do we have here? Firstly, the FIR which is the very basis of a criminal investigation is grossly tampered with. This means that strictly speaking, no one knows which road the car came from. Secondly, the Defence Witness 1 the infamous Ashok Singh who turned up 13 years later to claim he was driving, stated in the trial court that he drove on Manuel Gonsalves Road. This evidence is left uncontested in the Trial Court by the Prosecution. So, bottom line which road did the car come from?

What did Salman drink

This problem is totally mind boggling. Do remember that there is prohibition in Maharashtra. No one can enter a place serving alcohol or consume alcohol without a permit. This is an undisputable fact. So, what do hoteliers do? They know most punters have no permits. They serve you alcohol and fudge the bills. This happens even today. Please do bear this in mind.

Our worthy Salman went to the now defunct `Rain’ bar at Juhu with Kamal Khan. There Salman met his brother Sohail and some friends. All the tables were occupied, so Salman, Kamal, Sohail and the friends, all of whom were regulars at Rain, stood at the bar and drank after which Salman and Kamal left and proceeded to the J W Marriot.

The police produced the bills from Rain to try and show that Salman drank at the bar. Much was made in the Press about these bills. In fact, in light of this Judgement, I shudder to think what is going to happen in the case of the lovely Ms Janhavi Gadkar. Our men in Khaki have obtained her bills from the places she drank at. Please see why this is important.

There is one technical matter relating to the bills. Firstly, the bills are generated by a computer. Secondly, the original bill would ordinarily never be with the restaurant but will be with the punter. Therefore it is only a reprint of the bill that will form evidence. Now with respect to computer generated documents – such as restaurant bills - the Evidence Act sets down strict and elaborate rules on how such print outs are to be used as evidence. These provisions to the Evidence Act were inserted in the year 2000. Thus, when this incident i.e. Salman Bhais accident took place in 2002, the Police and prosecution should have been well aware of the mode and manner of presenting computer print outs as evidence. Needless to say, the procedure set out in the Evidence Act was not followed. It was not followed in toto. It was not a question of 9 matters being followed and the 10th being ignored. The process was simply not followed at all. Therefore, the so called bills were inadmissible in evidence. As I have written earlier, I wonder if our worthies in Khaki have obtained Jhanvis bills as mandated by the Evidence Act? As the cliché goes, watch this space.

Assuming, for the moment that the process mandated by the Evidence Act had been followed to tender these bills as evidence, even then, the evidence would be useless and laughable. Now let me reproduce from the Judgement.

Now apart from the above evidence there is 
another material brought on record by the prosecution 
by way of four bills which are marked as Exhibit­50A, 
50B, 50C and 50D during recording of evidence before 
the Sessions Court.  At this juncture it is to be 
mentioned that the trial Court had marked these bills 
as Exhibits and accepted their  evidential value in 
order to establish that these bills were for the drinks 
and eatables ordered and consumed by the accused 
and his friends.  In fact these bills were collected 
subsequently by the officer and there is substantive 
evidence of PW­9 on this aspect and this evidence of 
PW­9 and the factual position as to the accused and 
his friends not occupying any tables, render these bills 
devoid of any substance. On the contrary, production 
of such bills before the trial Court is in fact possibly an 
attempt to create documents to suit the case of 
prosecution. The reason for this is based on the following material brought on record.  Substantive 
evidence of PW­9 during cross­examination goes to 
show  that  the  bills  were  being  generated  on  a 
computer system and the name of the customer is not 
generated in the bill. Even also name of a person who 
pays the amount also does not reflect in the bill. It is 
further the evidence of PW­9 that if the customer is 
standing near the bar counter then there is no table 
number mentioned or reflected in the bill.  Table 
number is being mentioned only in case of a customer 
sitting at a table. Also code number of the captain or 
steward is generated in the bill when such captain or 
steward serves the order. Further substantive evidence 
of PW­9 is reproduced hereunder in order to see under 
which circumstances said bills were collected by the 

In the light of this evidence, the bills which 
are Exhibit­50A to 50D are carefully examined. Said 
respective bills give the table numbers as under : 38, 
40, 30 and 18. All the bills give the cover (number of 
persons) as one.  The bills give the captain code 
number respectively as 02, 02, 02 and 48. First two 
bills Exhibit­50A & 50B are only for food, and third 
and fourth bills Exhibit­50C and Exhibit­50D are for 
liquor.  The total of these bills is Rs.6376/­.  The 
glaring anomaly is regarding the mentioning of the 
table numbers in the bills.  Four different table 
numbers are given as mentioned above. However, the 
cover for which the bill is mentioned as one. So by plain reading of the bills it can be construed that each 
bill is for one person only and each bill is for the 
person sitting on a particular table number.

Do you now realise the utter madness? Remember what I said, Prohibition. On another note, I hope you realise how utterly useless the entire billing system was at Rain. There was no way the owners of Rain could have performed any analytics on the billing. Was the place doing well, what was the average table revenue, what were people drinking or eating, how did consumption patterns change as the evening progressed. Nothing. With such a meaningless billing system what do you expect. Mind you this is the same situation in all restaurants even today.

With this kind of evidence do you expect a verdict of guilty?

Who was driving

There is a lot of material on this matter. Was it Salman? Was it Ashok Singh? Were there 3 people in the car, were there 4 people? However, one startling passage had me gasping.

After partying at Rain, Salman and Kamal went to the J W Marriot at Juhu. Here they drank some more and exited. The car had been given to the valet to park. As they exited Salman gave a tip of Rs 500/- to the valet at the J W Marriot. On being examined in the Trial Court, this is what the valet stated in his examination and cross examination.

 “ I did not see at what time and in what manner the Land Cruzer left the J.W. Marriot Hotel. Kamal Khan sat in the back portion of the car behind Salman Khan. Nobody sat near Kamal Khan on the left side in the back portion of the car.

Police asked me during recording my statement where Kamal Khan sat.  I was remembering at the time of giving my statement that on which portion of the back seat Kamal Khan was sitting and he sat behind Salman Khan. Kamal Khan sat in the back portion of the car on the left side.” 

By pointing out this admission given by this  witness, learned    Senior Counsel for the appellant  submitted that the seat 
arrangement as stated by this  witness suggest that the
appellant/accused was sitting  on the left side of the front seat   i.e. towards the left  side of the driver's seat as Kamal Khan was sitting  behind him in the back portion on the left side.  Even    after   this   material   extracted   from   his   cross examination no attempt has been made on behalf of  the 
prosecution to get clarification for the anomaly  created in the   answers, one given in the examination in­chief   and   another   at   the   end   of   the   cross examination.  Without confronting this witness with the questions  in the nature of cross­examination,   now  it cannot be accepted on behalf of the State as argued 
that apparently this witness has deviated from his  earlier 
statement to  the  police  and  has partially  supported   the  
defence.  The   foundation   for appreciating this argument has not been created while  recording  the evidence   of   this   witness   by   the  prosecution. testimony.

So here we have contrary testimony given by the same witness in the Trial Court. For whatever reason, now lost in the sands of time, no one bothered to correct this. It took a diligent lawyer Amit Desai to point this out. Kudos to him. I mean this in all honesty.

The 305 pages are filled with howlers like this. I have extracted just a few for you.

To end, I urge you to read my list of disclaimers and caveats again. On one level I am proud that the Rule of Law is alive and well in India. I have faith in the higher judiciary. However, the tragedy is that Salman Khan appears to have got away with what is the perfect crime.

Sad indeed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay & Le Gavroche - Two nights

We normally make our ’special’ restaurant reservations at least 3-4 months before we plan to travel, but for some reason, this time we left it to a month or so before we were scheduled to travel. So we knew that snagging a table at was going to be difficult, if not impossible. Anyway, nothing ventured nothing gained, as the saying goes, so HRH the Queen of Kutch called and asked for a table. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay said they were absolutely full but were willing to put us on a wait list. We had to give them 3 possible slots. This was done. Though this was only to be expected we were disappointed at not getting a table.

Then a call was made to Le Gavroche and as luck would have it, we got a table. A very early, all American time of 6 pm, with a promise to hand back the table at 8.45 pm. We were glad to get this table. Le Gavroche is a favourite of ours.

We then left Mumbai and were in Siena when suddenly my mobile rang – the screen showed `Private Number’. It was Restaurant Gordon Ramsay calling to say that they had a table for us, and, as luck would have it, on an evening that we had no other engagement. I accepted the table and gave them my credit card details. They apply a stiff charge in case of a no show or a cancellation less than 48 hours from your table booking.

Boy this was going to be two fun evenings, back to back, first a meal at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay followed by dinner at Le Gavroche. Diwali evening with Gordon and Saal Mubarak with Michel! This Hindu New Year was off to a great start.

Of course you must know of the reputation of Gordon Ramsay, shouty, foul mouthed & TV star. All that may well be true, but remember his Restaurant Gordon Ramsay has held the coveted 3 stars in Michelin for 14 years! No mean feat. With Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck shutting, there are only 3 restaurants in the UK that have this honour – Alain Ducasse, Alain Roux’s Waterside Inn and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Of course he does not cook there himself, but that hardly matters, he has very able hands in the kitchen and front of house with the utterly charming Maitre D Jean-Claude Breton and the Sommelier Jan Konetzki. The Chef Patron Clare Smyth has only just stepped down and the Head Chef Matt Abe is now manning the stoves.

The meal was superb. The service stunning. The charm of the staff, their knowledge of the food, their honesty in admitting that they did not know an ingredient is refreshing. Yes, they did go in and give you an answer as to what the ingredient was. The food was beyond question flawless.

An Amuse Bouche - Smoked Potato 

For the first course, HRH the Queen of Kutch ordered what was described as ‘Ceps on toast’. This was Jerusalem Artichokes, Iberico Ham, Black Garlic, Smoked Chestnuts and Ceps. A newly introduced dish. This was a total knockout. The dish had Ceps of different sizes cooked in different forms – chopped in a Duxelle, halved and grilled Ceps, Thinly sliced raw Ceps and small Ceps forming part of the sauce all placed on toasted Brioche. They say that mushrooms are meaty. This dish was just that. Very rich and intensely mushroomy, if I could use that word.

Ceps on Toast

I had Ravioli of Lobster, Langoustine and Salmon poached in a light bisque with Oxalis and Wood Sorrel. This a Gordon Ramsay signature dish that has never left the menu. You get many versions of this dish at other restaurants, the version at the various Galvin restaurants is delicious too. You get chunks of Lobster & Langoustine with some Salmon in thin Pasta. The dish comes to the table with a circle of Veal Jus on which lurid green Sorrel Veloute is poured at the table. Sorrel is a sour leaf. The whole dish works brilliantly.

Ravioli of Lobster, Langoustine and Salmon
Mains for HRH the Queen was Cotswold lamb, autumn vegetable ‘Navarin’ with Best End, Braised Shank, Confit Breast and Shoulder. Basically, this was Lamb 4 ways. You got a taste of four very different cuts of Lamb with their different textures. The sauce is poured at the table. I had Suckling Pig which is again Pig done 4 ways - Crispy Belly, Roasted Loin, Spiced Shoulder Sausage & Chou Farci. This has crushed potatoes and spring onions served along with the meat. Once again brilliantly cooked.

Cotswold lamb, autumn vegetable ‘Navarin’ with Best End, Braised Shank, Confit Breast and Shoulder

 Suckling Pig  - Crispy Belly, Roasted Loin, Spiced Shoulder Sausage & Chou Farci 

It was time for desserts. It was hard to choose. The brilliant Tarte Tatin looked very tempting, but then we had had that before. I chose Caramel Milk Chocolate, Praline and Malt Mousse with Treacle Granola and Hazelnut Milk, all flavours I like. The dessert was excellent to put it mildly.

Caramel Milk Chocolate, Praline and Malt Mousse with Treacle Granola and Hazelnut Milk

HRH The Queen settled on Lemon Soufflé with Mascarpone Sorbet and Olive Oil. This too was a new dish. Up came a warm Soufflé that had risen beautifully. Some more table action. With an eye dropper the Waiter artfully dropped Olive Oil on the top of the Soufflé. A hole was made and the perfectly shaped Quenelle of Mascarpone Sorbet was dropped in. The Soufflé was light very lemony and delicious. At this point HRH told Jean-Claude Breton that we were dining at Le Gavroche the next night and she had taken a bet with me that the Lemon Soufflé would beat the Soufflé Suissesse that was a Le Gavroche signature dish. Jean-Claude Breton laughed and said that he had no doubt that she would win the bet. There is a bit of history to this. Both Jean-Claude Breton and Gordon Ramsay worked together at Le Gavroche and had obviously served and cooked hundreds of Soufflé Suissesse during their time there.

Lemon Soufflé with Mascarpone Sorbet and Olive Oil

Once the meal was over Jean-Claude Breton took us to the kitchen. The kitchen was busy. It was amazing to see how Matt Abe was at the pass plating up. Totally engrossed. We said a quick thank you to him and left, not without a photo with Jean-Claude Breton in the kitchen. We had our Petit Fours and a glass of Whiskey which was recommended by Jan Konetzki. This was something special he said, it was whiskey that was matured in barrels used to mature Calvados. It was most interesting, Whiskey with the aroma of Calvados.

Petit Fours

With Jean-Claude Breton in the kitchen 

 A dish being painstakingly plated by Matt Abe

With that we said our bye byes and left in a waiting taxi.

The only two thoughts on our minds were first, how the hell can Le Gavroche top this evening? It was perfect in every way. And, how utterly perfect the evening was. And then returning to the first thought, how the hell can Le Gavroche top this evening? Round and round the thoughts went.

The next day started with a light breakfast of a single Eggs Benedict. No lunch. We had a 6 pm table. Luckily, being Autumn the sun sets at about 4.30 pm so it is well and truly night at 6 pm. A short walk and we reached Le Gavroche. The magic started right there. Names were asked for, coats whisked away and we were escorted to our table. Menu with prices given to HRH The Queen not only because she is Royalty but because she had made the booking. We settled down.

A glass of Champagne for HRH The Queen while I had a Gin and Tonic. It was just 6.05 pm – G&T time if you ask me! The contrast between the dining room at Le Gavroche and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay could not have been starker. Le Gavroche is in a basement so you have no views out of big road facing windows as at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Le Gavroche is darker with `richer’ décor – think carpets, paintings on walls, heavy drapes and a comfortable club like feel. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is much lighter brighter and always has the most exquisite flowers holding the room together right in the centre.

The food at Le Gavroche is classic French, but slightly modernised and lightened. Classic dishes like Soufflés, Terrines, Mousses and luxury ingredients all over the menu – Lobster, Caviar, Truffles and Foie Gras. The Menu had two sections – an a la carte and a tasting menu called `Menu Exceptionnel’. In addition there is always a days specials menu with 3 dishes. A la carte it was for us.

It was bet time. Soufflé Suissesse was ordered by HRH The Queen of Kutch. I ordered a far less extravagant, far more shall we say proletariat dish - `Boudin Noir’ which in plain English is Black Pudding.

I won the bet. HRH The Queen of Kutch readily conceded defeat after the first spoonful. The Soufflé Suissesse was exquisite. This dish is a work of art. A light as air soufflé, lighter than any other soufflé by a mile, is topped with some cheese and gratinated. Then this whole orb is placed on a sauce made with cream and cheese. So you have 3 textures – the slightly chewy gratinated cheese, the airy soufflé and the hot intensely cheesy sauce. You hear of the word ephemeral when describing something that is, to use another cliché, light as air. This soufflé was exactly that. Knocked the socks of the really good Lemon Soufflé with Mascarpone Sorbet and Olive Oil from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Soufflé Suissesse - legendary

My dish was, as I said, commonplace. This dish could easily have been a breakfast. Black Pudding, the food of the working class, made with Pigs Blood and fat bound with Oats and Barley. Here it was transformed. The Black Pudding was the best I have ever had. Moist, rich full of flavour. The dish also had Pork Crackling which was so crunchy that I am sure the people on the next table would have heard me chewing.

Black Pudding 

So far, Le Gavroche matched Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. All this was extremely pleasurable.

HRH The Queen of Kutch decided to have a special of the day for her main course – Roast Mallard Supreme, Sliced Foie Gras, Chanterelles & Celeriac. All very Autumnal. The dish had some Truffles and mushroom which made HRH The Queen of Kutch very happy. The dish was just up her street, she does enjoy duck, and with Truffles and Foie Gras what was not to like. The most wonderful sauce was poured onto the Duck. Deep flavour, syrupy and clear. This was saucing at its best.

Roast Mallard Supreme, Sliced Foie Gras, Chanterelles & Celeriac

I had a Grilled Pork Loin and Ravioli. The Ravioli was a small component delicately stuffed with what I thought was some more pork. Once again the dish was sauced at the table with a most beautiful sauce. I was happy too.

Grilled Pork Loin and Ravioli

The main courses were extremely good. This was superlative food. Totally different from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. This was really still classic French food with ingredients that went together. Real saucing, and full flavoured food. Old school methods of food prep such as `turned vegetables’ was much in evidence at Le Gavroche. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay used French techniques but the food was much more modern. There was an extensive use of micro vegetables. The saucing was lighter.

For dessert I had what a Chocolate and Praline Indulgence while HRH The Queen of Kutch had a Lemon Cheesecake. Both were excellent to say the least.

Chocolate and Praline Indulgence

Lemon Cheesecake

To conclude, both restaurants are at the very top of what great restaurants are and should be. Food service and ambience at stratospheric levels. But, if you ask me which is the best restaurant in the world it would have to be Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. If you ask me which is my favourite restaurant the answer is Le Gavroche.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rome - The food


If there is a cuisine I absolutely love over all other cuisines, it has to be Italian. So our Italian holiday was quite consciously centered around food shopping, food markets, food stores, and, of course, eating. Three days in spectacular Siena had already immersed us in the wonderful pastas, meats, salamis, Panini’s and pizzas of Italy and we were hoping to continue our gastronomic journey in Rome.

The area where we were staying in Rome was pretty much the Mayfair of Rome if you get my drift. Very upmarket, full of fancy stores and home to all the marquee brand hotels. Didn’t bode well for really good Romano restaurants. But, were willing to give it our best shot.

After an efficient check-in we wandered off to the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. A walk that seems immensely doable on the map but since we took many wrong turns and got lost a few times, we ended up walking way more than we expected to. Back at the hotel, we asked the concierge to recommend a restaurant close by that served good, non-touristy food. Restaurants with spruiking and touting really put us off. After some deliberation we settled on one restaurant barely 500 meters from our hotel, and, what a good decision it was.

Restaurant Girarrosto Fiorentino which was started in the 60’s is a family owned restaurant which celebrates ‘dolce vita’ in the truest sense. Everything about the restaurant was harked back to a golden era of indulgence, elegance and style. Real cloth table cloths on the tables, starched white napkins [or laptops as the Gourmet Lawyer calls them] carpets and an feel of the good old days. Waiters in white suits, an aging Maître De with the best, most charming manners, and, table side service had us being caught in a suspension of disbelief for a short time. This restaurant was not just about the quality of food but also the theatre of food which does add so much to the dining experience.

The menu was extensive and many things caught our eye. After deliberation we settled on the Tortellini Brodo and the Beef Carpaccio for our first course. Florentine Steak from the famous Chianina cattle as our shared main course.

Chianina Beef comes from a breed of cattle from the provinces of Arezzo and Siena in the region of Tuscany, Italy. The production of this beef is highly controlled by the CCBI Association ("Consorzio Produttori Carne Bovina Pregiata delle Razze Italiane.") and new-born calves have to be registered with the association, and meat from them has to be certified. Packaging of the meat can only take place in authorized places. Each package will have a number on it representing the animal the meat came from.

The Tortellini Brodo was absolutely delicious with the tastiest most well-seasoned umami broth I have had in a long time. The Carpaccio, also with Chianina Beef, was absolutely beautiful. The quality of the meat was so good; it literally melted on your tongue. The Arugula and Pecorino added to the dish and the olive oil was outstanding. So outstanding in fact was the olive oil, that we bought a bottle of the olive oil from the restaurant when we finished our meal.

Tortellini Brodo

Carpaccio with Arugula & Parmesan

But the best was yet to come! Out came the most gigantic piece of meat I have ever had. It was the Florentine Steak which is a T-bone with the Rib Eye and fillet on the bone. The server carved the meat table side and I was happy to see it was just perfectly seared but still very very pink. Absolutely superb meat. That’s `the thing'. When you have a really good product, you don’t need to do anything fancy to it. Just cook it simply and well and you have a winner dish. We were very happy with our meal. Food in Rome was off to an absolutely flying start.

Green vegetable to accompany - Asparagus, Artichoke and Spinach

Dessert - Ricotta  Cake

A Tiramisu

The next day after a few hours at the awe inspiring Collleseum we had a dinner reservation at the very chic Pier Luigi. This restaurant was started way back in 1938 and has been run by the family ever since. In the ‘80s the then young Roberto Lisi took over the reins of the restaurant and transformed the small family-run trattoria into an upscale restaurant.

By the 90s the restaurant had become the pioneer of fish in the Roman culinary landscape. We were seated at an outdoor table overlooking a charming seemingly private square. The service was very attentive and refined and the menu interesting. For our first course we had the very Roman Pasta Amatriciana. A traditional Italian pasta sauce based on Guanciale (cured pork cheek), Pecorino cheese, and tomato. Very decent but neither of us were really wowed. We were sure there were better versions of Amatriciana available elsewhere.

 Pasta Amatriciana

Mains were Suclking Pig for The Gourmet Lawyer and Frito Misto for me. Again, both good but nothing to set our taste buds dancing.

Suckling Pig

Frito Misto

Day 3 saw us at the Roman Forum and the unbelievable store Eataly for lunch and some shopping. Dinner was at the trendy, slightly rough and very foodie Travestere area. But our dinner restaurant Checco er Caretierre was absolutely non-touristy and run by two rather grim sisters. This was an absolutely superb restaurant. Large, wooden tables, wooden floors, long strings of garlic hanging from the wooden ceiling and tons and tons of photographs decorating the wooden walls. The atmosphere was completed by the gruff, slightly eccentric waiters. A carafe of their house wine set the mood and led on an absolutely wonderful meal. We started with an order of Fiori di Zucca: Zucchini flowers, deep fried and filled with mozzarella cheese and anchovies. Delicious!

Fiori di Zucca

For our first course we shares a Spaghetti Carbonara, a pasta dish from Rome made with eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon (Guanciale or Pancetta), and pepper. This was obviously one of the specialties of the restaurant because we saw many many plates of it coming out of the kitchen. The Carbonara was the real McCoy, made with only egg, the egg forming the sauce. This was not a Gujju version made with a bland white sauce. It was excellent. 

Spaghetti Carbonara

The second course for The Gourmet Lawyer was Saltimbocca and I had what was perhaps my dish of the trip - Coda alla Vaccinara - oxtail stewed until tender and buttery, in savoury tomato sauce. The depth of flavour packed into that tomato sauce was absolutely staggering. The oxtail was so tender it fell off the bone at the touch of my fork. It was a dish I literally licked clean.

Coda alla Vaccinara - oxtail


For our last dinner in Rome and Italy we went back to the lovely Restaurant Girarrosto Fiorentino from our first night. This time we stayed away from the steak and focussed on the rest of the menu. We started with their special selection of salami. Fresh, moist, incredible good quality sliced on order from the many hams they had, and, absolutely perfect.

Our first course was a Risotto with Fontina and asparagus. Really really well made. And for our mains, The Gourmet Lawyer had another Saltimbocca alla Romana and I had a fillet steak with a champagne and black truffle sauce. Again, the quality of the meat was just outstanding and the sauce was such a perfect complement to the meat. The sauce it always used to accentuate the flavour of the meat, never to drown or disguise it.

Risotto with Fontina and asparagus

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Fillet steak with a Champagne and black Truffle sauce

More Artichoke

A fantastic dessert - Vodka & Limoncello

Lemon Cake

Complementary - Vin Santo & Biscuits

A fabulous end to a fabulous gourmet week.