After a hectic past few weeks, I’m finally away for the holidays. Yay! A foot of snow has just dumped down on the northeast US, and now that I’m no longer traveling, it’s lovely to see the blanket of white outside.
Just before I left London, I tried the £25 lunch menu at Angela Hartnett’s Murano, and it ticked all the boxes: great service, lovely linens/china, and flashes of creativity on the understandably-limited menu – all at a fantabulous price.
The restaurant is still offering a decadent white truffle tasting menu (a £65 supplement for every white truffle course you add to your meal), and our waiter carried over a box of the precious fungus so we could have a peek and sniff (those are free). It’s heady stuff, that white truffle. We got our little taste of the good life in the fresh-out-of-the fryer white truffle arancini that arrived while we browsed the menu options.
And as if the creamy-crispy arancini weren’t pre-starter enough, after we placed our order, a generous pile of salumi arrived. I’d love to know who Murano’s supplier is, because I could have eaten that prosciutto all day. For vegetarians, there was a smoked aubergine puree dip that was creamy, sweet and nutty – a delish topping for the fresh, varied breads in our bread basket, but no match for the beauties of cured meat.
My starter of grilled mackerel tart was meaty and moist without any of the stinky fishiness that ruins mackerel’s popularity. And the sharp sweetness of the tomato-red “tart crust” added flavor and taste contrast. I enjoyed my starter immensely.
Roasted guinea fowl was juicy, but nothing too memorable, especially compared to the guinea fowl I had at Petershan Nurseries. On the other hand, the cost of the guinea fowl alone at Petersham approximated that of our entire lunch menu at Murano . . . .
The stonebass was beautifully pan fried so that its skin turned into crackling while the white, flaky meat stayed moist, but the treats hidden in the sauce basquaise were the highlight. Chorizo makes everything good. Murano knows how to source, no question.
The palate-cleansers were so fun – we couldn’t help smiling at the colors and flavors. Rich and creamy banana; refreshing and light basil; tart black currant were my faves, but polishing off all of the sorbets was no problem.
Dessert options were pretty unimaginative. Then again, it may be no more than a dressed-up brownie, but it was still worth the calories.
I loved the petit fours – chocolate truffles, fruit tuiles and fresh, warm hunks of panettone. I’m still thinking of that panettone – its eggy texture and sweet tartness of candied citrus, balanced with plump sweet raisins. Nothing like those monsters that come in pretty boxes at this time of year.
What a steal for £25. Considering how much I loved all the goodies that came in between our courses, I’m guessing I’d love a full-on meal at Murano. To do in 2009, then.
Murano, 20 Queen Street, W1J 5PR, 0207 592 1222; closest tube station: Green Park