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[Venice] Il Ridotto

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In spite of its hard surfaces and modernist decoration, Il Ridotto managed an attempt at retaining something of an air of intimacy. It’s to do with the tables being split between the two small rooms. Unfortunately, the attempt fails as the hard surfaces mean that, unless you are good at filtering out background noise, you are going to feel part of the conversations of neighbouring tables.

The menu also fits the modernist style. Things kicked off with an interesting amuse – a disc of bread, topped with a spicy paprika jelly and pecorino, a little red pepper sauce to moisten the mouthful.

For a starter, we opted for the “risotto for two” – good creamy rice, flecked with peas, mint and basil. Scallop roe flavoured the cooking stock and, perhaps, could have taken a more prominent role.

A main of beef cheeks, braised in pinot noir, was excellent. A really deep flavour that only comes from good meat, cooked for a long time. There was some just wilted raddichio providing some crunch. The menu had also advertised raspberries and I’d thought “No! That’s so wrong that they must be going to do something creative”. But, no, it was just a few berries scattered in with the meat. And, yes, it was soooo wrong.

Across the table, cod was being enjoyed. A small fried fillet sat on black lentils. In itself, this would have been good. But also on the plate was a “cod sandwich” – served cold, this was a salt cod mousse presented between two very thin “slices” of black rice. Really clever. Really good.

For desserts, I’d hoped that “Our take on tiramisu” might finally be the chance for something really creative. A deconstructed version, perhaps? But, no, this was a bog standard tiramisu. A good one, though. Lots of booze, strong coffee and good chocolate. Thoroughly enjoyable in itself.

There was certainly some creativity going on with the other plate. Small cubes of chocolate brownie, topped with hazelnut ice cream and surrounded by blobs of pumpkin puree. It sort of sounded like it might work and it did.

There were good petit fours to accompany the expresso. These days, it seems like they are often an excuse for the pastry chef to dash off a few mini-desserts but, in keeping with the name, these were indeed little baked items – a langue de chat, biscotti, a lovely light jam sandwich sponge.

It really had been a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable meal.

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