Tentazioni, Shad Thames, London
Two cherry tomato-size spheres of fried aubergine caviar, more dark tan than golden brown, were served with a sweet and sour sauce that balanced the weight of deep frying. I longed for a bit more smoky and sweet aubergine flavour.
Asparagus soup was bolstered by slender pretty stalks of aparagus, and a truly impressive amount of chopped summer truffle, bringing a wonderful current of its nutty flavour and natural umami into the soup, all bound together flavour-wise with the richness of a runny poached duck egg. Not the most subtle dish by any means, but very good.
The mild oceany flavour of black ravioli filled with salmon salmon, the creamy brightness of the saffron sauce and the intensity of sun dried tomato came together wonderfully, deep flavours that did not overwhelm one another. There was a surfeit of sauce, which I happily finished with a spoon.
Crispy skin on the well prepared seabass, the judicious lines of balsamic vinegar worked well with the fish, but the peanut butter-like sauce had a neutral presence that neither enhanced or distracted from the fish. The fried bay scallops were overcooked and slightly tough.
Surprisingly, I loved the combination of (a gentle) liquorice sorbet with pineapple, perhaps the sunny and sweet pineapple served to dispel the medicinal anise flavour.
Succulent rack of lamb, with a crumbly crust of mint and breadcrumbs, was even better combined with the aromatic celery soup, and a layered potato/gorgonzola cake, all of which were ever so slightly enhanced by more shavings of the light summer truffle.
Chocolate to finish -- first a pre-dessert of a medium bodied mousse layered with zabaglione a simple but effective combination. Then a chocolate mille feuille with brilliantly crispy layers of pastry interleaving the chocolate, roasted hazelnuts encased in caramel and a fruitty note from an array of summer berries.
Drank a full bodied berry-laden primitivo, big but fairly balanced and was excellent with with the lamb.
The cooking wasn't the tightest I've seen, not everything worked perfectly (e.g. peanut sauce with seabass) and the deep-fried items (scallops especially) left quite a bit to be desired, but the food has flavour and lots of it. Not subtle cooking, but big, bold and gutsy, like the excess saffron sauce, eaten with a spoon.
Limster, this is a blast from the past, I went to this place years ago when Shad Thames was being plugged as the next big thing. Really can't remember what I ate but, as with many of my more upmarket/modern Italian dining experiences, I came away underwhelmed.
I wasn't even aware that Tentazioni was still going - what drew you to the place?