An amazing birthday meal sitting next to the ex-Mayor? What isn't there to love.
Yes, if you want to come here, be prepared. It's hard to get a reservation and it's a meal that will take hours of time and hundreds of dollars to be done properly. However, if this isn't an issue, read on.
When I called two weeks ago to make a reservation for my wife's birthday, the best they could do for a Saturday night was 10pm - which isn't really a problem as we're night owls anyway. When they asked if it was for a special occasion, I mentioned it was my wife's birthday, and that was that.
This afternoon, the restaurant called to ask if we wanted an earlier seating - which we jumped at. 10pm is fine, but 7:30 is better as we would be able to relax through the meal.
The service was amazing. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by name, coats were taken and we were seated. It was then that we were presented with special menus that simply said "Happy Birthday Janet" on the top. No big spectacle, just a nice touch showing that they remembered it was a special night. These small touches ran the whole night - our water and wine glasses never ran dry, and the service was transparent - never intrusive or invasive. When the dessert menu was presented, we were asked if we were having a celebratory dessert or just coffee - a small but genuine touch that finished with a single candle in my wife's gelato.
The food was expertly prepared Alto Adige style cuisine. I started with two sea scallops with pureed sunchokes and black chanterelles, followed by a polpette with German bacon (speck), and finally a trio of pork preparations: belly, house made sausage and loin. Janet had a beet salad followed by a maccheroni with foie gras sauce and a perfect petrale sole.
The unexpected highlights were the beverages. From the champagne we started with to a hidden find of a 1994 white Rioja to the Quince ESB - a beer that was more Belgian than bitter - made by one of the chefs.
As we left, they presented my wife with one of her menus, rolled and tied with a bow. Walking past Willie Brown who had just been seated next to us, we were happy to have had the experience.
A perfect place for a celebratory Italian meal.