Friday, May 22, 2009
I had a very pleasant lunch today as the guest of an old university chum who is doing very well in Broadcast Media.
Luciano is a joint venture between Sir Rocco Forte and Marco Pierre White located on the original site of Madame Prunier’s fish restaurant, one of London top restaurant destinations during the first half of the last century. Up to 2005 it was a very good if somewhat pricey Japanese retaurant called Suntory.
The restaurant is very spacious with a clubby feel that suits it's location in St James's .
The food is good and comaprable to Cecconi's just up the road and the wine list has some good selections of Italian wines but as to be expected in an area with astronomical rents , not many bargains.
I started with what was an over generous primo piato of Linguinni with a Rabbit Ragu and then decided to try the Costoletta Milanese served with rocket , finochio and cherry tomatoes in a light olive oil and lemon dressing.
The Linguinni was very good and beuatifully cooked whilst the Veal despite being a little burnt on one edge ( see picture) was well prepared witout the taste of overcooked butter that I sometimes find at Cecconi's.
The fried Zuchinni were very delicate and as good as L'Anima which is a tough act to follow.
One of my comapnions had a beautifully prepared calves liver with pancetta and sage served on mash. I tasted his starter of Pasta Fagioli ,a special of the day , and it was
really very well made.
We drank a very refreshing Gavi di Gavi Morgassi Superiore 2002 and Planeta (Sicilian) Merlot 2003. The latter seems much subtler than when I first tried it 5 years ago and was really very pleasnat indeed.
No room or time for puds and coffee.
Ba Shan is a sister restaurant to Bar Shu (across the street) and Baozi Inn .
The speciality here is xiao chi (small eats/dishes) from Sichuan, Hunan and Shaanxi and like the other restaurants in the group Fuschia Dunlop has acted as a consultant.
The restaurant is divided into several themed sections ranging from a snack seating one at the front to a wonderful shadow puppet theatre and farmers cottage.
My companion and I decided to more or less follow what Helen Yuet Ling Pang (World Foodie Guide, one of my favorite food bloggers in London) had the previous evening but added a few extras:
Five-spiced beef salad with coriander and garlic
Deep fried prawns with chilli sauce
jiamo with cumin-spiced beef
Jiamo with cumin - spiced chicken
Pork chaoshou with spiced soy sauce, chilli oil and garlic
Prawn & water chestnut dumplings served with vinegar
Chicken & shiitake mushroom dumplings served with spicy, garlicky sauce
Shaanxi noodles with pork, beancurd and hot and fragrant sizzling oil
Noodles with red-braised beef and carrot
Dan Dan Noodles
Pot marked old woman’s beancurd
We drank a fairly average Pinot Grigio ,the wine list is very limited and badly chosen just like Bar Shu.
Everything was really delicious as is the food at Bar Shu (currently being refurbished after a kitchen fire).
The dishes that truly stood out for me were all the dumpling dishes (clearly home made) all of which had tremendous flavour and texture – all the ingredients blending in perfectly.
The small bite sized Jiamo were really fresh and satifying.
The Pot marked old woman’s beancurd was actually better that the one I had at Bar Shu and probably the best I have ever had outside China.
However I fund the noodle dishes a bit disappointing probably due to the lack of flavour in the soup This is where Hunan in Pimlico shines, Peng father and son make stocks that are second to none. Stocks in any cuisine are crucial and the more effort , care and attention is taken the better the dish be it a Rissotto , Blanquette de Veau , Avgolemono Soup or Laksa.
I look forward to working my way through the rest of the menu.