The whole reasoning behind our visit to London was for my wife’s birthday. You see she had been wanting to dine at Murano since it opened. She loves Italian food and thinks Angela Hartnett’s style of cooking looks great.
We had previously booked a table at Murano, the year it opened when it was still part of the Gordon Ramsay stable. We had to cancel because at the time it clashed with some demonstrations in the area on that day.
Angela opened Murano in 2008 for Gordon Ramsay’s group. It hadn’t been opened long when Ramsay’s group ran into financial trouble and Angela was offered the chance to buy him out, which she did.
From the outside, ‘Murano’ certainly isn’t very impressive, especially compared to ‘Tamarind’ next door. The exterior has three small trees outside the window, with the name above the door in quite small lettering. It looked quite beige from the outside, a theme that continued inside the restaurant.
The first thing that struck me about ‘Murano’ that set of some alarm bells was the atmosphere, to quote Jackie, “You can cut the atmosphere with a knife in here”. There three tables already seated, none of the diners were speaking to each other. This was a restaurant where you come to eat and not socialise. It felt formal, in fact to formal for our liking.
The walls were beige, as was the chairs and a fine table-cloth covered the tables. At our table for two, there were three chairs but only two place settings, which we thought was quite peculiar.
Once seated the full ‘beigeness’ of the room was apparent, with what looked like net curtains over the windows, blocking out what natural light was able to get passed the three trees outside, whilst the room wasn’t depressing it did need a splash of colour to cheer the place up.
The staff uniforms obviously consisted of a beige waistcoat, perhaps to blend into the walls? Ok you get the drift, we hated the decor and atmosphere, lets move on!
We opted to dine from the tasting menu tonight. We were expecting seven exquisite courses.
We were first served with a few pieces of antipasto. The Parma Ham in particular was very flavoursome and of good quality. If this was a forerunner of what was to come, we were in for a good night.
The first dish of the night was ‘Pesche’ which comprised of peach, apple and artichoke salad. It was light and refreshing with the artichoke being the star of the dish. Whilst not much cooking took place for the course, the flavour combinations were first class.
For the next course we had the choice of two dishes, Farfalle with Pesto or Linguine with Prawns, Chilli and Garlic. We both opted for the Linguine. This was a very pleasant dish, the chilli and garlic didn’t overpower the prawns. The chilli gave the back of your throat a bit of heat right at the end of the mouthful. Overall it was a very nice dish.
Next we came to the fish course or as the Italians say ‘Zuppa di pisce’ and my goodness, what a dish, it came with what looked like tiny squid, prawns and sea bass. The broth was light with a touch of cream.
If Carlsberg made Fish Soup…..
This dish would find a place in any Michelin starred restaurant. We both couldn’t believe the flavours in this dish, they worked so well together making this dish by far the star of the show.
I opted for the ‘special’ on the next course, Pigeon breast with Foie Gras. This dish unfortunately didn’t live up to the fireworks of the previous dish. I found the pigeon breast quite difficult to cut through and a bit chewy, fortunately no shot was present which is always an added bonus. The Fois Gras was cooked to perfection and its rich flavour complemented the pigeon breast.
Jackie ordered the Fillet of Beef, mint, courgettes and garlic puree. As ever the beef was cooked very well and the dish was enjoyable.
Next was the cheese dish which bar the blue cheese was pretty unspectacular and a bit of a let down. I would have much preferred having the option to pick one cheese rather than being supplied with three pieces and two of them failing to ‘rock my boat’.
Sadly the meal quickly ran downhill from here. The next course was a selection of ‘Gelato’, sorbet to me and you. In theory they were to be a pallet cleanser to the final dish. But my goodness, after firstly trying a bit of the basil sorbet which I found totally unpleasant then what looked like a banana and pistachio sorbet I gave up on the dish, it just didn’t work. Whilst I know many people liked this dish having looked at previous reviews, we certainly did not fall into this category. It was quite noticeable that the basil sorbet in particular bombed, with most going back to the kitchen.
Strangely enough, this was the only dish of the night where we were not asked if we had enjoyed our course. I think this speaks volumes.
The final ‘Hurrah’, our dessert was next. Having eaten in a number of Michelin restaurants over the years, we were really looking forward to this dish.
The offering from ‘Murano’ was Pistachio and Apricot cake. Lovely….. not.
It was heavy and dry and really didn’t belong in a restaurant of this standard, in fact it was more suited to my local cafe back home than any worthwhile upmarket restaurant. If it fell on the floor it would undoubtedly bounce and hit the ceiling, it needed loads of cream to try to at least give it a chance of being saved. Our hearts sank, such a sad end to Jackie’s birthday meal. We were asked if we enjoyed the dessert, which we replied that we felt the cake was far to dry and not the best. This was an honest answer to the question. We felt as if had no right to complain about any course at the restaurant. The waiter curtly answered that he would let the chef know and removed our plates (I must add, we did finish it, after all we were paying for it).
Would we come back to Murano? With such highs as the Zuppa Di Pesce and such lows as the Gelato, it really is a tough question to answer. We were sure the pastry chef was just having a really bad day at the office.
Although we left the restaurant deflated and opted not to have our usual post dinner coffee’s and liqueur’s, we decided we would return but not very quickly, there are many restaurants we would visit before venturing into Murano again.