Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cipriani - London

Apologies for disappearing for so long. I have been on a business trip to London, where I had no access to a PC to comfortably blog about my latest culinary experiences. However, I have taken a small camera with me, which enabled me to take some interesting pictures that I am intending to publish, together with some information about relevant places I have visited. Cipriani falls into that category.
For those few who haven't heard of Cipriani before, a little bit of History. Cipriani is probably the most renowned Italian restaurant worldwide. Inventor of Italian dishes like Carpaccio and Bellini, Giuseppe Cipriani opened the first branch in Venice (called Harry's Bar), which initiated the phenomenon that Cipriani became to date.

Cipriani London is 'the place to be'. Regularly frequented by celebrities (for instance, the night I was there, Stevie Wonder was sitting at the next table), it is a place of luxury and opulence where the food served is as simple as it can be.
You would expect a place of this rank to serve fine dining. On the contrary, Cipriani mainly serves simple Italian classic and traditional dishes.
Located in the heart of MayFair at a very discreet location, Cipriani is full every day of the week. You will definitely have to queue up for a table and booking is strongly recommended.
I was welcomed by a Bellini served right at the bar. It was without a doubt the best one I ever had. If you can't afford to splash so much cash for a meal at Cipriani, I would at least recommend it for a Bellini. They invented it, after all!
We were lucky enough to sit at one of the best tables. The menu was extremely simple, just as your regular Italian restaurant, but complemented by an extremely buzzing environment, impeccable service and food.

We started with a few 'antipasti'. The Zucchini fritti was to die for. These sort of 'zucchini chips' were so light you just couldn't stop tucking into them. The batter was light and they maintained their fragrance without releasing any oil.

Needless to say, ther Parma ham was the real thing. Tender, sweet, sliced to perfection and well presented in a generous portion.

The bread accompanying the ham was a rather unusual version as you can see. It was more like a croissant, shaped like a cone. Fluffy and fragrant, it was a perfect match for the ham, as opposed to the more traditional soft and crusty Italian bread.

If you want to test how much care is put into selecting their raw products, having some fresh mozzarella is what you should do. The buffalo mozzarella with plum tomatoes was extremely good, although I have had competing ones at other venues in London. The thing to look for when having buffalo mozzarella is the milk inside it that should spring out as you cut through it. And then again, once in your mouth, it should release plenty of milky juice as you slowly chew it, while maintaining a firm texture (not a soggy one). The problem with buffalo mozzarella is that good quality ones are only produced in Italy and they must be eaten the same day. On the second or third day they just won't taste the same.

Scampi Fritti is another Italian classic, particularly popular abroad. This was my favourite dish: so simple and yet surprising. These scampi were so tender and juicy you just didn't need to chew them. I would recommend anyone to try these at Cipriani.

These 'Paccheri alla Genovese' were not what you would expect from a sauce from Genova, the hometown of Pesto. These huge pasta tubes are nice and firm ('al dente'), topped by a very savoury 'Genovese' sauce, composed of vegetables and meats braised long enough to make it smooth. Overall a fairly strong but interesting flavour.

This cod with olives and tomatoes was again one more example of Cipriani's style. As you can see, they are not excessively formal when it comes to presentation. Instead, their priority is to deliver the traditional taste of real Italian dishes made with fresh, well selected ingredients.

Besides its price, there's very little you can complain about a meal at Cipriani. That said, you know what you are paying for: simple, traditional food, and being at what is considered THE Italian restaurant chain worldwide.

23/25 Davies Street
London W1K3DE
Telephone: 020 7399 0500
Fax:020 7399 0501

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