A charming, modern restaurant that is trying really, really, really hard. It is lovable for its effort and execution, but be ready for an intense experience that doesn't translate perfectly.
Located in Alba, Italy, famous for its white truffles, Piazza Duomo builds a menu each day that reflects the offering of their on-site biodynamic garden. Depending on which micro-season they're in, the chef (Enrico Crippa) must improvise. In his own words, "<The menu> is a daily task that I can't delegate to anyone and every day I am forced to learn and adapt." Choosing this strategy means that they can only seat a few dozen people each week, and I must say that the experience felt pretty exclusive and special. My overall thoughts are that this improvisational technique yielded a handful of truly outstanding moments—two of three of the dishes on this menu might be some of my favorites of all time—but it also produced some real duds.
PRICE PAID: $252 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 7.0/10
Situated in Northwestern Italy, in a sub-regional called the Langhe (a UNESCO world heritage region since 2014,) the restaurant is in the middle of one of the richest food cultures in Europe. Along with the aforementioned white truffles of Alba, Barolo and Barbaresco wines can also trace their roots to this part of the world. From having spent an afternoon driving through it after lunch, I can tell you that the region is easily worth a few days' (or weeks' ) trip. Steep hillsides, vineyards, tiny fortressed villages... It's heaven on Earth.
Piazza Duomo's interior is up a flight of stairs from their brightly-painted streetside entrance, and a wandering collection of anterooms crowd the upper floor. This lobby is one of them.
We are led to the main dining room, which is a slightly less-offensive hue of pink than the exterior, and looks like someone's 8-year-olds had a field day with the wall paint. A bizarre criss-crossing abstract leaf pattern makes the point: "this place is a little odd." Nailed it. Outside, the gorgeous chalky colors of Alba shine through in the early Summer sun.
We are first brought two different chips made out of chickpea and buckwheat. The buckwheat version tastes exactly like Frosted Flakes without sugar. The chickpea chip has a rich, Middle-Eastern flavor to it. 7/10.
A nice palate-cleansing dish of shiso and green apple sorbet. The minty, cilantro-y flavors of shiso go perfectly with the apple, and the frozen temperature is a nice way to begin a set of vegetables. 9/10.
Next up, a series of small appetizer bites. From left to right, a rich bok choy leaf straight from the garden dipped in a lovely pâté of mushrooms and seeds (8/10). Next, mushroom paper with milkweed, as soft as actual paper (9/10). A pillow of corn with sesame seeds, which tastes just like cheesy bread (9/10). Lastly, on the right, a beautiful presentation of deep-fried spaghetti sticks with carbonara and eggplant. Strongly-flavored mint leaves are attached to the stick with some pretty edible flowers, also straight from the garden (9/10.) 9/10 overall.
Almond marzipan, with extremely strong tree nut flavor and a very sticky, gummy texture that I found agreeable. Allergics beware. 9/10.
Langoustine and veal tartare made to look like olives. They actually taste very olive-y. 7/10.
Peanut cracker, which tastes just like a light peanut butter. 8/10.
"Swiss chard sponge", with some tuna and mayo in the middle, an absolutely classic flavor combo. We are advised to eat with our fingers, and the soft sponge yields immediately to the lightest pressure. Beautiful, original, and fun. 8/10.
Next, foie gras cream with ginger foam, which we are advised to eat from the bottom up. Something is really bitter in the foam, unfortunately, and the very light and creamy foie gras doesn't quite make up for it. 6/10.
Endive salad with dill and cod. The cod is super light. Pretty delicious. 8/10.
The first main course was a precariously-plated, thin-shelled goose taco. Inside is an oversized portion of protein, chicken-mayo, Parmesan-Reggiano, and many varieties of leaves. There are strong mint flavors, but the overwhelming quantity and huge diversity of greens gives it a flavor of Too Much Garden. The taco shell also immediately disintegrates upon first bite, making it a real battle to eat. 5/10.
Another enormous quantity, this one titled "Eggs + Egg Salad." Caviar, egg whites, egg yolks, sour cream, seaweed, and a codfish broth on top. A lot of the leaves are partially wilted in some melted butter. This dish is absurdly large and very salty; it's also just six large piles of pretty much the exact same thing. For maybe the second time in this whole experience I could only get through about a third of it and gave up. 5/10.
This next dish, titled "Prawns & Cherries," was full of beautiful color. The gazpacho was constructed with tomato, orange, cherry, and red prawn. When taken all together it actually works really well. Lots of great flavors, and some serious depth comes from the flowers and mint. 9/10.
Called "Raw Colors," this dish was another strikingly-plated collection of brightly-hued ingredients. Red mullet with lots of powders, basically, with some that taste like vegetables and some like sea urchin. Each of those powders seems to be primarily made of salt, yielding yet another very briny dish, which is kind of overpowering. 6/10.
Sultanas and capers add some neutral colors to what is otherwise an extremely green dish. The cod buried within is absolutely perfect—actually the best cod I've ever had, fresh and cracklingly resh, and the vegetables are prepared perfectly. A completely different set of flavors than the previous dish. 10/10.
Though I'm not sure the photo will quite do it justice, this next dish was possibly the most artful, most gorgeous plated presentation I have come across in my entire adventure, period. Titled "Squid & Peas," a collection of brightly colored vegetables is paired with a mashed potato ragout and creatively-streaked squid ink. Great flavors and a mix of different textures. 9/10.
Made with white wine vinegar and corn powder, this straighforwardly-titled "foie gras and leaves" is, indeed, some foie gras under a leaf. There is a lot of crunchiness in the texture from the corn powder, which contrasts the foie in an interesting way. 7/10.
In yet another example of how my experience here was kind of all over the map, this was one of the most insanely delicious bites of pasta I have ever enjoyed outside of my favorite at La Pergola. Parmesan sauce, paired with an Islay Scotch whisky! The server brings the whisky over in a small spray bottle, and delicately applies a few puffs to the dish right after service.
Known for their heavy, peaty, smoky flavor, this particular Scotch pairs absolutely perfectly with the light cheese sauce and the pasta, which is itself dead simple and a touch al dente. 10/10.
Cardoncelli mushroom with asparagus, carrots, and pigeon. The pigeon is fresh, well-cooked, evenly spiced, and not overly rich (a rare event). Fantastic. 9/10.
If you had asked me before this meal whether the flavors of curry and banana go together well, I probably would have said, "hell no." But, I would have been completely wrong, because this curry, banana, chamomile reduction, and peanut butter rectangle crisp ensemble represents yet another stunningly original and functional flavor pairing that can only be called inspired. 9/10.
As we approach the end of the meal, some lychee sorbet as a palate cleanser. The flavors really worked well; sweet, simple. 9/10.
Buried under a layer of strawberry meringue, yet more strawberries. Sugary, over-the-top, near-perfect dessert. 9/10.
Strawberries and cherries, milk and grappa, and a variety of other small dessert bites. The milk and grappa has a bold, alcoholic flavor. Actually, it's totally fantastic. 9/10.
Lastly, a geometrically-laid-out group of chocolate truffles, decadent and fresh. A lovely finish to an excellent, if uneven, meal. 8/10.
Set behind a subtle pink facade among the gorgeous Spring pastel-colored walls of Modena, Italy, Osteria Francescana owns worldwide fame for its revolutionized style of Italian cuisine. A wildly passionate and toweringly extroverted person, the head chef Massimo Bottura is given to strokes of inspiration that cause him to stop traffic and call a friend with his new dish idea at a second's notice. He won his first Michelin star in 2002, his second in 2006, and his third in 2012. The chef and his team are given prominent billing on the first season of Netflix's Chef's Table documentary.
Massimo has a celebrity chef's CV to go with his celebrity restaurant. He has worked alongside Alain Ducasse, Ferran Adria (of El Bulli fame), and Georges Cogny. He opened Osteria Francescana in 1995 to an almost continuous river of criticism from conservative Italian chefs, who accuse him of "poisoning the national cuisine." A more reasonable reaction might be to say he's injecting new ideas into a very traditional style of food.
Expectations for this world-famous restaurant were sky-high for me. Bottom line: Massimo lived up to his ultra-celebrity in culinary art, and while his food definitively knocked it all the way out of the park, the service did not.
PRICE PAID: $251 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10
There's a ton that could be said about Massimo, his restaurant, the city he comes from, and the culinary traditions therein. High praise of Modena's cuisine goes back as far as Cicero, who praised the town's food culture while writing his Philippicae (a series of speeches condemning Marc Anthony), and that was almost 2,000 years ago. Situated right between two tributaries in the Po River valley, Modena historically grown some of the richest fruits, vegetables, and proteins anywhere in Europe or in the world.
The door unlocks with great drama, and we are led through a series of hallways and passages to the main dining room. The place settings are classier and more spare than I would have imagined. The place is more Ritz Carlton, less punk rock than the reputation of the chef would suggest.
The interior had a decidedly Alinea-like feel to it—neutral, grayish colors, intense lighting, over-thick carpet, art with frames and subjects that match the tone of their surroundings. You know, birds sitting calmly on perches and shit.
A quick note on service—between seating and even getting our menus a really, really, really long time elapsed. Like, 35 full minutes. And, in a surprise move that has only ever happened at one other 3-star, the sommelier totally botched one of the table's drink orders.
First up, an ice cream of river fish—"Italian fish and chips" is the description we get. The ice cream is super cold and sets off the warn, crunchy wafer fantastically. Great start. 9/10.
Continuing the theme of dessert first—a "macaron" of tomato and stewed rabbit appeared alongside pillows of bread with codfish capers and tomatoes. The flavors and textures in both were perfectly matched, and the theme is clever. 9/10.
What would an Italian restaurant be without a shitload of bread sticks? We get an Olive Garden-quantity to munch on between courses, which as it turns out is often a really long time. Some hand-carved scoops of butter accompanies, which are utterly amazing. 9/10.
And now onto the first main course—a dish ever-so-playfully titled "Misery & Nobility" consists of oyster with a warm savory prosciutto broth in the ceramic canister underneath. The oyster is a perfect reflection of the flavors of the ocean—it is coated in seaweed and fried for an emphasis of its saltiness. The liquid prosciutto has a pretty, filtered, refined flavor. I'm detecting some kind of analogy to Land & Sea in there somewhere, but that's as far as I can decode this guy. 8/10.
Caviar, right? Nope, lentils! The dish is made with the belly of eel, crème fraîche, crunchy bread, and citrus. I have to say that the end result tastes exactly like caviar. A really cool effect, my only quibble is that there is way too much of it. 9/10.
The jelly sitting astride this dish is made from belly of suckling pig, which enhances the salinity of the pork belly and mackerel underneath. The vegetables, too, are really lightly pickled producing a pretty salty dish. Though this is the flavor it is known for, the mackerel is overly fishy and oily, which doesn't go perfectly. Saffron lends color but the flavor is hard to detect. 7/10.
Yogurt, potatoes, and tzatziki sauce on a plate of gnocchi. Small shaped spheres of celery—cooked quite al Dente—give a nice texture interplay. Tiny, shredded up peppermint leaves are a really nice touch, they build a strong mint flavor on the back of the palate which pairs perfectly with the potato-y pasta. 8/10.
One of the absolute classics of the restaurant: "Eels Swimming Up the Po River." Eels from the Po River valley, which itself surrounds Osteria Francescana, are famously delicious. If you care to listen, you can buckle in for a really long, complicated story about how dish is an analogy to some sort of escape of the Estense Dukes from Ferrara to Modena in 1598, forced upon them by an ambitious Pope who wanted their eel marshes. Anyways, the eel itself is cooked sous-vide with a coating of saba sauce and some onion ash, creamy polenta (on the right), and a brilliantly sugary wild-apple jelly (the green sauce). It's toasty warm and basically perfect. 10/10.
This next dish is titled "Autumn in New York," and it's an interpretation of Billie Holiday's hit 1934 song Autumn in New York. Zucchini with white beets, peas, asparagus, with a smoked porcini mushroom infusion broth. The rough apple shape that the dish is formed into is the Big Apple, get it? The dish works okay together; it's kind of a mish-mosh of flavors and textures, which kind of makes sense because the song is a mix of optimism and risk:
It's autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love.
Autumn in New York is often mingled with pain.
Dreamers with empty hands may sigh for exotic lands;
It's autumn in New York; It's good to live it again.
This next dish was easily my favorite in all of Italy so far—"Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano" is a metaphor of the slow passage of time. Each of the cheeses used in this dish is aged for a different length—24 months, 30, 36, 40, and the "clouds" on top aged to 50 months, a soft analogy to heaven or the afterlife. The flavor is that of the best soufflé in the world; the delicate and subtle differences between the different cheeses comes together perfectly, and the poetry in the meaning of the dish is singularly brilliant. A signature dish, and one that I would trek all the way back to Modena just to enjoy again. I'm not kidding. 10/10.
The story behind this dish is a reach back to the chef's childhood—"the Crunchy Part of the Lasagna" recalls the scrabbling with siblings or friends over the one most delicious part of the entire pasta dish one's mom has just brought out of the oven. True to form, it tastes exactly like a slightly crispy, burnt piece of rich pasta. Creamy and delightful flavors. 9/10.
This dish is a story of all the chef's travels; each little piggy represents one of his stops on the journey around the world to get where he is now. From left to right:
- Marrakech spices and pumpkin; Africa
- BBQ; North America
- Cucumber; Asia
- Avocado; South America
- Apple; Modena
All have pork belly underneath. The avocado is a little underripe and so is very firm, which I don't think was intentional. 7/10.
As we get into dessert, a foie gras "ice cream bar" rolled in almonds, a.k.a. "croccantino." The idea is awesome, but initially a heavy balsamic flavor overrides everything. It eventually evens out, yielding a super-rich pre-dessert with a great crunch. 8/10.
This dish has the fun title of "Gazpacho as a pre-dessert." The dish has brilliant colors and is constructed of lots of gels—cucumber, crème fraîche, orange, etc. The serving temperature is too warm for my tastes, and interestingly the gels don't taste like the fruits they represent. Sickly-sweet and overall a great precursor for dessert. 8/10.
Another restaurant classic—"Oops! I dropped the lemon tart" comes on a faux-shattered custom plate. Lemon and citrus flavors as bright as the sun. A brilliant finish to a totally brilliant meal. 10/10.
And, for the very last portion of the meal—"Reconstruction of a Cherry" has three small bites. From left to right, chocolate-covered foie gras, cherry chocolates, and cherry macarons. 8/10. If you can stand the long waits, this is the truly the ultimate gastronomical experience.
Situated on the highest floor of the gorgeous hilltop Waldorf Astoria hotel called Roma Cavalieri, La Pergola has been run by Heinz Beck since 1994. Heinz has a series of successful restaurants throughout Europe, but one could safely call his 3-star Roman restaurant the headquarters. Hilarious to me that Rome's only 3-star is run by a German.
Mentored by the famous Heinz Winkler (whose outstanding achievement was to become the youngest 3-star chef in the world, and now runs his own 2-star restaurant in Aschau), Beck is unique among his cadre of elite chefs in a few ways. First, he spends time thinking about the scientific and medical implications of his fare—he claims to have spent five years researching how food interacts with human physiology and metabolism. Another uniqueness: he openly shares recipes, mentors young chefs, and generally tries to build his profile by friendly means.
PRICE PAID: $268 PP (INCLUDING CHAMPAGNE- LIST PRICE IS ~$55)
FINAL SCORE: 7.0/10
I am greeted at the host stand and immediately seated in the gorgeous, extremely classy dining room. Candles, silver, flowers, and stemware abound. The feeling I get is similar to Bareiss- polished, formal, country-clubbish.
The waiters at La Pergola wear vests and bow ties but no jackets. Some have the apron thing, and some don't. Only the head of service and maitre'd have jackets, so there's some kind of odd rank thing going on with the outfits. It looks a little disorganized that everyone has their own sartorial strategy.
I decline the offer of an aperitif and am handed... A water menu? It’s organized by region and quantity of total dissolved solids, and each offering is accompanied by a lively description. Most bottles are €8-12, but a handful of exceptionally brazen choices can be had for €340. It is a really special person who feels comfortable shelling out most of a €500 note for a bottle of fucking water, and unfortunately for the benefit of my audience I am not that kind of person.
First up, a small series of light bites. We begin with some deliciously fresh sardines on sponge bread. The bread is surprisingly firm and the fish has a strong taste—it's almost buttery it is so smooth. Black olive powder rounds it out nicely. 8/10.
Next, some completely awesome cheese reduction "cupcakes" with veal. Rich, thick, spongy. It follows the flavors of the previous dish nicely. 8/10.
What the kitchen labels a "Pasta brick" tastes like pure carbs. Creamy, fresh, and excellent. 9/10.
The bread tray rolls up next, and I'm offered a choice of baguette, "naturalist bread," focaccia, and a few others. In what turns out to be a rich and buttery choice, I pick the baguette and focaccia. Some excellent fresh butter accompanies. 8/10.
In a nice bit of show, the bread and butter are accompanied by a large selection of salts from Hawaii, France, Nepal, and elsewhere. It kind of reminds me of the salt-stars at Thomas Keller's Per Se and French Laundry.
The last of the introductory appetizers—mussels with a pecorino "puff." Creamy and cheesy, like a Mac and cheese with mussels. 8/10.
The first main dish is a gorgeously presented foie gras powder with duck and a red fruit mix on bottom. Maybe a quick presentation note: the powder is shockingly easy to breathe in, which doesn't feel great, but melts easily. There is more foie hidden at the bottom of the dish, and the strawberries play the foie off perfectly! A great early-summer dish. 9/10.
Kind of a cool story here. So Heinz (who does not play sports) was visiting some of his new restaurants in Portugal a few weeks prior and was taken aback by the gorgeous, symmetric, well-kept lines of the golf course nearby. He decided to create a dish with lobster, fennel, and parsley layers that would mimc the perfection he observed. An indulgent idea, perhaps.
The "ball" is scampi with crispy amaranth, and the main portion of the dish in green is lobster with dill. The dish is roughly room temperature when it arrives, and the lobster is fresh but doesn't leap off the plate exactly. The green powder dries everything out considerably, and it makes it feel a little like you're working your way through a shitload of salty bread crumbs. 7/10, with a huge boost built in there for creativity and presentation.
Next, some red prawns marinated with raspberry, caviar, and potato. The prawn itself is decadent and fresh, and the chopped vegetables (mostly carrots) add crunch. Marinating in raspberry is a great idea, and reflects the red fruit ideas from earlier. 8/10.
Probably the best individual piece of pasta I have encountered on my whole adventure. Full stop. It's basically rigatoni with a liquid center of bacon and cheese, with a boost of richness from some whipping cream and guanciale (basically super-fine bacon) in the sauce. The chef actually shares the recipe and discusses how to prepare it yourself in a video (it's on my shortlist of weekend activities). A warm explosion of richness and zucchini; this is the absolute pinnacle of delicious comfort food. 10/10.
It's safe to say that any dish that showed up that pasta had a hard act to follow, and this seafood medley did not even come close. A collection of red prawn, scampi, lobster, and bok choy presented in a lawsuit-hot glass dome. The fish sticks unattractively to the metal grill, and the flavors and textures all feel washed out in this hyper-hot cooking pot, yielding a dish that is pretty plain. A few lemony notes but that feels like an assist from a marinade. 6/10.
Next, some cod with kidney beans and "frozen parsley snow" added last. The cod itself flakes off in big crispy chunks (see right) and is incredibly fresh; everything is perfectly cooked. The kidney bean sauce tastes a lot like an aioli or mayonnaise, and doesn't add much beyond making the fish richer, so I'd argue it would have been better off without. 7/10.
For the main course, lamb served with artichokes in a rich, rich sauce. The flavors and textures of this lamb were disappointing—not to say it wasn't fresh or well-prepared, but everything did not harmonize well together. The artichoke flavor was very strong and overwhelmed the normally grassy, farm-y lamb flavors. 6/10.
La Pergola's cheese cart, which embodied the spirit of a delicate rolling grandfather clock, focused heavily on Italian cheeses. When in Rome, as they say, so I chose a selection of five different cheeses- two creamy cow's milk from Abruzo, a lesser-known region on the Adriatic coast. This was accompanied by a delightful, light cheese from Piedmont, as well as the classic product of Valle D'Aosta, Fontina. Cheese courses can do a lot to showcase a country or a region's terroir, and this is a great example. 9/10.
As we head into the final dessert courses, a new candle-lit centerpiece, napkin, and plate are brought over. Few restaurants do this even in the 3-star category, and it's a really nice touch.
I have to be honest, there's some really bizarre psychology at play here. Near the conclusion of the meal, diners are invited to consume "the Sun," which is served on a special backlit plate that reminds me a little of the lightning plates at Schauenstein. Think about that for a second- the chef gives you a miniature version of the star responsible for all life on this planet. For dessert.
As far as flavors go, it's basically a sugary fruit paste with some chocolate powder spread across't. Super original, but it felt a touch creepy and egotistical. 7/10.
A collection of small dessert bites and petit-fours; raspberry-on-a-stick, rose macarons, etc. 8/10.
What, in a burst of verbosiveness, the menu describes as an "iced sphere of pomegranate on gianduia cream and cannelloni filled with salty pine-seed Chantlly" came next. You get to crack open the pomegranate sphere in a rather satisfying way, and the chocolatey, savory flavors play well together. 8/10.
And, very very lastly, a lovely silver box of desserts with different items (mostly chocolate items) hidden in each shelf. I am completely and overwhelmingly stuffed at this point so I skip a few, but it's a charming last gesture. 9/10.
As I wrap up the meal, I'm invited to take a walk on the gorgeous rooftop patio and admire the views of the Eternal City. It's surprisingly flat and forested, and lovely. I recommend a solid half-hour with a good demi-sec or cigar up here.
PRICE PAID: $328 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 9.0/10
I want to start off by saying that Da Vittorio was an extremely special experience; absolutely one of the best evenings I have had in Europe and perhaps in my global adventures.
The hotel and restaurant are run by the Cereas, and various family members are responsible for different branches of the property- one brother (Enrico) runs the restaurant, another (Francesco) runs the hotel, a sister runs hospitality (Rossella); you get the picture.
Without exception, every member of the family operating this property are joyfully and completely committed to ensuring their guests have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Let me convince you with examples:
- Every single member of the staff, bar none, came out and introduced themselves to me before the meal even got rolling.
- Even though it was well past midnight, the sommelier offered me a personal tour of their world-class wine cellars, showing off what is likely one of the best collections of Italian wine in Europe.
- The Chef and Hotel Manager personally checked in with me throughout the evening to ensure everything was meeting expectations.
- Omar running service is fantastic- informed and friendly.
Beyond the personal touches, the property itself is incredibly dramatic and grand. You approach their enormous, gated property that looks every bit the hillside Italian villa of yore. Beautiful lighting and enormous gates give it an exclusive and almost untouchable feel.
The only slightly strange bit- every ten minutes, a plane roars into flight at the very-nearby airport. A bit unsettling at first.
Now, for the meal itself. I chose the Carta Biaca (Carte Blanche) menu, which was the longest on offer.
First out, a single large chunk of squid with a big, creamy ricotta. Tomato base, and Porcini mushrooms round things out nicely with a sliced celery topping. A subtle and herby gazpacho. 9/10. Great cleanser/starter.
Next, a Taleggio cheese "ice cream" served hot- textures are squishy and awesome. Bell peppers bring it all together. 8/10.
Cherry and foie gras pair up absolutely perfectly. The cherries are deadly sweet, and the foie is rich as sin. 9/10.
Next up, a "False Apple" with Beluga caviar. Sweet presentation! Altogether this dish is an awesome idea- the flavors of the caviar and apple work well but the textures aren't a perfect match; you end up with a salty-fruity mash that tastes like good fruity oatmeal. Not entirely a bad thing. 8/10
Another creative idea to bring the foie gras and cherry combo back- cool presentation and extremely rich! This time, the foie isn't fried and the cherries are fresh, presented with their leaves. Is Cerea winding back the clock? 9/10.
Getting into the seafood dishes- "Caccia al caciucco" with prawns. The prawn is soft and almost buttery. A hearty but refreshing course. 9/10.
The next seafood course was absolutely outstanding- sea bass carpaccio. Not too salty, great textures, and the clams add a nice touch. 10/10.
This next dish was super summery- prawns from Sicily, enclosed while cooking to release their smoky notes. The prawn has a taste quality I can't quite put finger on- almost a delicious hot dog taste. Paired up with Burrata cheese, a close cousin to Mozzarella. 9/10.
Beautiful saffron accents in the presentation is pretty. I like that the rice is sculpted into a small circle, with herbs on top. This dish has a nice comfort-food feel that I really appreciate. 9/10.
9) Sea Bass cooked in a cocoon of sugar. The sugar-cooking method brings out all kinds of flavors that I never imagined existed in seafood like this. Once again, bringing back the Sea Bass ideas from the fifth course and reflecting them nicely. 10/10.
Cooked Scorpion fish cheeks and neck with raw fish. Scorpion fish are extremely poisonous, by the way. Raw fish is in separate broth and is considerably tastier than cooked. 8/10.
A nice cheese plate, including robiola and red onion sauce, partially melted. Excellent pre-red meat cleanser. 8/10
These homemade raviolis were beautiful, and possessed an unexpectedly sweet flavor, most likely from the extremely rare Strachitunt cheese, which is only produced in this region of Italy by a single producer. 9/10. Duck sauce sets it off nicely.
Fatty and delicious duck breast with coffee and Guanaja chocolate sauce. Guanaja, by the way, is one of the small Caribbean-side islands belonging to Honduras that Christopher Columbus discovered in 1502, becoming likely the first westerner to taste Cacao on that very voyage.
Anyway, the polenta is an excellent textural contrast, and they go together fantastically. 10/10, an excellent main!
The only even mild disappointment of the evening- beignet with cookie, prepped table side. It was, unfortunately, burnt. 6/10.
Not much to say about this strawberry sorbet and mint except that it was perfect. A classic pairing, executed without flaw. 10/10
This Millefeuille of apple had a delicious, crumbly texture and bright green apple flavors. 9/10.
Next, some amaretto. A bit like a pain au chocolate. 9/10
Next, a fluffy cotton cloud arrived with chocolates and mint. The idea, of course, is that you should be floating on a cloud by now, and these desserts are coming up to join you. 9/10.
Last, parting gifts- a small batch of hand-made cookies. I love this place. 9/10.
A last, charming gesture- a copy of the menu, signed by Chef Cerea himself. What an outstanding level of service.