Long-standing Italian restaurant located in the lower levels of the Intercontinental Hotel, Hyde Park from Theo Randall
I have been meaning to get in to Theo Randall’s for many moons as a loved and reveared force in the world of Italian cooking. The restaurant is in the lower levels of The Intercontinental Hotel, just off Hyde Park as it has been since 2006. Instant impressions were that the bar was quite small and it is very much a hotel restaurant by design which unfortunately also has hard acoustics in general. Service was very pleasant and the plus of the food having a simple, no nonsense style with some good moments but sadly also carried a couple of minor disappointments. A pleasure to do though and I was glad to have finally got round to Mr Randall’s eastblishement not least for his lamb but also the company for the occasion.
It’s very hard to out class the focaccia made at The Sportsman and Noble Rot (by the same mastermind of Steve Harris), but the focaccia done here was fine enough and the menu itself showing several options to choose from to personalise your tasting menu which I thought was a nice touch. The white Devon crab with Florence fennel, dandelion and Sardinian Bottarga (cured fish roe) was a superb start. It was clean, fresh and uncomplicated and with the addition of lemon to drizzle at choice I thought this reflected no nonsense basics done very well. Although there is nothing wrong with having a quartered lemon on the side, presentationally I have seen this done with more imagination and effort.
The mixed green ravioli with Swiss chard and butter sauce with sage I thought was extremely good. Again, this was just simply done and with maximum return. The shame being that I could have done with bit more of this, but that’s only an indication of my ever-increasing gut size(!). One dish that was not on the tasting menu but I really wanted to see anyway was the cheese soufflé as it’s a personal favourite of mine and having seen it various guises (The Punch Bowl pub, Martin Wishart (Edinburgh) and of course Le Gavroche). Unfortunatley, this one at Theo Randell’s as by far in last place and I actually thought should not have been sent to the table in the hardened and overcooked state it was. Sadly this was not good to eat and a definite dissapointment when one compares just how etherially light and cheesy this could have been at places such as Martin Wishart.
Thankfully faith was restored with the lamb which I thought was absolutely smashing. This was served with roasted globe and Jerusalem artichokes, salsify, fennel, carrots, beetroots, turnips and an utterly superb salsa d’erbe which I had not had before. The latter was a pleasant change from the usual mint sauce and the lamb itself was tender to the mouth as well. This was accompanied and washed down by an agreeable Sizzano which was decanted for the table.
The lemon tart was simple in its offering but with such lovely freshness of lemon and creamyness of the tart, there really wasn’t much astray here and the spiced pear chutney to go with the cheese selection was another notably good touch. Italian petit fours are not my absolute favourite as I prefer soft, decadent sweets as opposed to the traditional, hard, pistachio biscotti – that’s purely personal preference though.
Accepting that the £70 for five courses is a London price, I still walked away with the feeling that it was a little steep for what it was and as much as a fan of simplicity as I am, the great moments here felt shortlived. Good to do all the same and I will bank the pasta and lemon tart from coming here.
Food Grade: 68%
Location (Click google logo for directions)