So this is rather exciting news: one of London’s top chefs has launched a weekend menu combining two of the city’s greatest loves – brunch and Italian food.
Quite fittingly titled La Dolce Vita, it presented the perfect opportunity for me to recently revisit Theo Randall’s eponymous restaurant at the InterContinental Park Lane…
If you caught my interview with Theo earlier this year, you might recall him enthusing about his love for vegetables and the unequivocal emphasis he places on enhancing their natural flavours, in order to let these key ingredients speak for themselves.
His central focus shines through from the very start of the four-course brunch, evidenced by plates piled shamelessly high at the antipasti table(s). Truth be told, it takes us several trips – throughout the course of the meal – to do justice to the inviting selection of salads, fresh cheeses and Italian breads.
Highlights include the creamiest burrata and fresh English asparagus, both served on a surprisingly-moreish bed of greens; and verdura mista – an earthy mix of grilled red peppers, violet aubergines and zucchini, layered with sensationally-sweet Datterini tomatoes and capers. There are also impossibly large olives, hefty slices of bruschetta generously drizzled woth olive oil, and all sorts of cured meats from thinly-sliced Angus beef to smoked eel with candy red beetroots…
The afternoon ambles affably along with my choice of primi: a mixed green ravioli gently stuffed with Swiss shard, rocket and crimi di rapa in a beautifully-simple buttery sage sauce.
Secondi entails a brunch-staple – frittata, it’s trembling texture holding up a maelstrom of moreish ingredients, softened by pillows of caprino fresco (a goats cheese with a tangy undercurrent).
I split this with my father, so that I can have (more than) my fair share of his sformato di Fontina e zucchine: a baked soufflé demonstrating the perfect blend of greens (spinach and zucchini), cheese (melty Fontina and Parmesan) and cream…
The perfect blend of cream, cheese and greens.. behold @Theo.Randall's signature soufflé at his new #LaDolceVita brunch @ICParkLane! From the impossibly fresh antipasti through to Theo's terrific dessert shop (and a cheeky trip to the crepe station too) – it's been quite the epic afternoon. Now if you need me, I'll be in my food-induced coma at home… only to be woken up in time for Game of Thrones tonight! #SundayBrunchDay #WeekendsLikeThese #TopLondonRestaurants #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Literally translating to the ‘The Sweet Life’, it’s no surprise that the ‘La Dolce Vita’ menu doesn’t hold back when it’s time for said dolci. There’s even a crepe station complete with all the sweet trimmings, fresh fruits and sauces you could possibly want for… But the main act remains Theo’s signature desserts which arrive in a ceremonious line-up.
The feistily-zesty Amalfi lemon tart remains the next best thing to a carefree cruise along the Amalfi Coast, particularly when paired with an Amalfi lemon martini. The panna cotta is an entirely summer-appropriate affair too, with the aromatic intensity of the vanilla beans cutting through the soft creaminess of this classic pud.
Of course, I unabashedly welcome the unapologetic richness of the ricotta cheesecake and flourless chocolate cake (soft, dewy and oh-so-wonderfully chocolatey). It is Sunday after all. The last two desserts are both the sort to be had with strong coffee – in our case, we each need a double espresso before we reluctantly bring ourselves to leave.
Figuratively speaking, Theo Randall’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ menu is rooted in the Italian tradition of friends and family breaking bread and dining together in a relaxed setting.
The stellar service, unhurried tone, laid back ambience and fuss-free yet sterling cooking-style and spread, mean that this vision is quite easily translated to reality here in London too.
Theo Randall at the InterContinental, 1 Hamilton Pl, Mayfair, London W1J 7QY
Do have a look at the restaurant’s website if you’d like more details on the menu.
Fancy recreating the Amalfi Lemon Tart at home? Theo’s shared his signature recipe with us, here.
I was invited to experience the new ‘La Dolce Vita’ menu at InterContinental Park Lane. As always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.
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