Locanda Locatelli: Still on top form (February 2017)

In the debate about what may be the best formal Italian restaurant in London, I have consistently made the case for Locanda Locatelli. It was therefore highly pleasing to revisit it for the first time in three years (during which time the décor has received a minor makeover) and find that the very high standards for which Locanda is duly renowned are showing no signs of slipping. The place exudes class and refinement. The colours are subtle and muted as is – arguably – the service, but the place certainly doesn’t lack atmosphere. On our Saturday night visit, there was a pleasant hum across the venue. Coming here is, of course, primarily about the food. We felt that Locanda may have missed a trick by no-one thinking to offer us an aperitif while perusing the menu, but at least we were able to do so without any disturbance. There are around eight or so starters, pasta options and then meat/ fish mains. Choosing is perhaps the hardest part since almost all the dishes sounded highly enticing. I opted for a relatively simple starter of green beans, rocket and potato, but the quality of the underlying ingredients was second-to-none in terms of flavour and intensity and the whole dish was made harmonious by the addition of fresh shaved black truffle and a shallot dressing. My comrade also rated her choice of burrata cheese, pumpkin, rocket and hazelnuts, although its richness did perhaps become a little wearing towards the end. If the starters were very good, then the mains were absolutely excellent. I struggle to recall a recently better prepared piece of meat than here, the dish comprising a roast rabbit leg, parma ham, polenta (just wonderfully soft) and radicchio. My comrade opted for the gnocchi, this time benefiting from the addition of black truffle shavings We passed on puddings, but thoroughly enjoyed our after-dinner cocktails, which were expertly assembled. The wine list too deserves mention: all-Italian, but with an incredibly broad range, beginning at a relatively competitive price-point. The place is overall not cheap, but worth every penny, in my view.