My foodie husband is particularly excited for this restaurant. So excited in fact, that he’s wearing a jacket… not a shacket, an actual jacket from purveyors of fine Italian style, Dolce and Gabbana. A fitting choice for a stylish Italian restaurant in the heart of Mayfair. Theo Randall (whom you’ve probably seen judging Masterchef or cooking up a storm on Saturday Kitchen) has an unparalleled reputation for Italian cuisine following ten years at The River Cafe, where he was awarded a Michelin Star. In 2007, he took the bold decision to take on the Park Lane address under his own name and thirteen years on, he’s still there… not just in name but in person, slaving over a hot stove on the evening we visit.
For all its ritzy location, there’s a real warmth to the restaurant. What is in essence a windowless, low-ceilinged box – has been thoughtfully designed to make the best of its shortcomings. Creamy wooden panels glow under elegant lighting design. Polished terrazzo and smoked mirror give the illusion of depth, whilst sumptuous arsenic-hued seating and foliage soften hard edges.
We visit on a busy Saturday evening. The diners are an eclectic bunch. A trio of middle-aged Italians salivate over Zucchini Fritti, a multi-generational family are greeted by the staff like old friends and a young couple, perhaps on a first date, have as much a rapacious appetite for each other as the Fegato di Vitello.
To Eat and Drink
Our charming server for the evening, Brigida, offers us a glass of Prosecco and talks us through The Regional Tasting Menu. A four course offering which changes seasonally to celebrate the diversity of Italy’s provinces. This summer, the spotlight is on ‘Sardinia;’. showcasing the culinary best of the island’s land and sea and each course is accompanied by a wine pairing.
We begin with an amuse bouche of Datterini Tomato Bruschette and a chunk of crispy focaccia doused in peppery olive oil. For Antipasto, an Insalata di Polpo is served with lemon, parsley and a delicate Sardinian bottarga. The octopus pairs well with the accompanying glass of intensely floral Vermentino.
For primo… Culurgiones: a simple pasta from the eastern side of the isle filled with creamy potato, pecorino and herbs. The sweet tomato sauce and a slightly salty Rosato prove to be an addictive combination.
Secondo comprises a perfectly roasted Rump of Lamb from the Lake District, served with marinated chickpeas and an unctuous jus. The first red of the evening is a rich Carignano del Sulcis, Grotta Rossa which boasts notes of violet and toffee.
Per Dolce… a lightly fragrant Torta Pardula; a ricotta, lemon and saffron tart that is accompanied by a silky smooth honey gelato.
In a Nutshell
The staff are faultless and the regional tasting menu, a great success. It provides diners the opportunity to deep-dive into Italy’s rich culinary traditions without even having to pack a suitcase. In the Autumn, Umbria will take centre stage and will most likely feature notes of earthy truffle, fruity reds, pork and nutty grains.
Theo Randall’s is a Park Lane restaurant with the soul of a backstreet trattoria… not an easy feat to achieve in a transient monolith like The Intercontinental. And my husband is glad he wore his nice jacket, because at the end of the meal, we’re lucky enough to be introduced to the man behind the curtain…and for what it’s worth… he seems like a really nice bloke.
The Regional Tasting Menu costs £75.00 per person.