I have never been to Tuscany and I certainly didn’t think I’d end up there without having to leave the country! However, this month I was lucky enough to be sent to a brand new food heaven and my tastebuds were burning. It was one of those evenings that could have gone terribly wrong. I was told to arrive at 19:00 for a 19.30 start. Being the punctual sort, my phone indicating 19:00, I headed down to New Burlington Place. I arrived at my destination – the fires outside were being lit (I like a good fire), and through the sheer glass that the front of the restaurant was made of, I admired the beautifully warm and rich décor. I caught a glimpse of the staff inside going through a final run-through, but no other diners in sight. I started to feel a bit nervous, surely I couldn’t have been the only one?! There was nothing left to do but to take a leisurely walk around the block. Clearly one has to master the gift of being fashionably late. But I was hungry and excited. I somehow killed 10 minutes, worked up more hunger and made a brave decision to go in. Mayfair can be quite intimidating, but not this place, as I found out as soon as I stepped in. My coat was tactfully removed and I was told to go downstairs to join the others. I was in Frescobaldi, a brand new restaurant and wine bar assigned to the famous Frescobaldi dynasty name. First of its kind in the UK, it is also their first joint venture with the Good Food Society.
Tucking into some amazing cheese that was carved out and served in its own enormous shell, a glass of chilled Prosecco in hand, I was interrupted from this blissful state by the restaurant manager, who came to welcome us and to present the head chef – Roberto Reatini. Roberto, who tossed his talents around at Zafferano and Shoreditch House prior to being appointed by Frescobaldi, introduced his menu, speaking proudly, with a hint of humbleness in his voice.
We were then taken back upstairs to the main dining room. Shortly the starters arrived, but not before Teseo, our sommelier, introduced the first of the wines. Pomino Bianco 2013 was well accompanied by beetroot salad with watercress and pistachio. Or was it the other way round? Regardless, the salad was delicious, consisting of a trio of beetroot, all different flavours complimenting each other, with a sprinkle of pistachios, set on a bed of a few watercress leaves.
Teseo, as one would expect, was extremely knowledgeable about his wines and shared many stories with us. Did you know that the Frescobaldi family were the first to introduce Chardonnay in Italy 200 years ago? Well now you do. The service was friendly and attentive without the kind of forcefulness one would expect in this type of establishment, making the whole dining experience very relaxed and enjoyable.
The main course was a plate of linguine with lobster & chilli, with the rather palatable Attems Ramato 2013. There was plenty of lobster nestled in the al dente linguine and just the right sprinkle of chilli. I didn’t finish my plate only because I knew a dessert was coming next, and I do have a party dress I need to fit into in a few weeks time.
The apple and walnut tart with cinnamon ice-cream, which I could smell as it approached our table, was the perfect finish to a perfect evening. It came with a carefully selected glass of Vinsanto Naturale 2007. The tart had the right amount of crunchiness and the apple and cinnamon reminded me of Christmas. The fresh mint tea came beautifully brewed afterwards in a ‘Alice in Wonderland’ teapot, accompanied by a selection of biscotti.
Despite the sheer glass front, Frescobaldi has cosy warmth to it, with its opulent wood panelling and paintings covering the walls. The food menu is sophisticated and well thought-through, and the extensive wine list will satisfy even the biggest wine connoisseur.
Frescobaldi is tucked away just off Regent Street, far from London’s shopping mecca. Perfect for any occasion, this new culinary addition will have you impress your dinner date without breaking the bank.
Ristorante Frescobaldi London, 15 New Burlington Place, Mayfair, London W1S 2HX, +44 (0) 203 693 3435. Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus