VERDICT: WINNER A WHINER, DINNER A WINNER
The unemployed film director Michael Winner (“Death Wish 3”) somehow repositioned himself a restaurant critic, inexplicably garnering a column on the back page of the London Sunday Times, a weekly event which has become a kind of national spectator sport, tracking the posturings of a negative energy field who could easily have stepped out of a novel by Dickens. An especially poor hatchet job by him appeared on August 19, 2007, taking to task the Brunello Ristorante at the Baglioni Hotel London. A follow-up visit to Brunello for a reality check reveals that Mr. Winner occupies a parallel universe where nothing ever goes right, while Brunello continues to deliver a top-quality fine dining experience in a marvelous setting.
The room itself successfully combines elements of both classic and modern design with an Italian flair, rendered in golden hues, accented by soft lighting, plush fabrics and elegant black Murano crystal chandeliers. The noise level is subdued- a polite ambient murmur, thus the room is appropriate for leisurely dining, romantic trysts or business meetings. There’s not a bad table in the house. A high ergonomic consciousness prevails, meaning one comfortably settles into any banquette or seat, happy to linger as long as the mood strikes. Tables comfortably spaced allow the very efficient service team to move about efficiently, invisibly. Cutlery and flatware appear and disappear magically, the water glass is always full. The peppery Sicilian olive oil in a shallow dish pairs perfectly with home-made foccacio accented by cherry tomatoes. One peruses the menu, a flute of Moet & Chandon rosé champagne in hand, engaged by an embarrassment of choice.
When asked to recommend a red wine from Sardinia, the charming young sommelier named Simon, fresh from the Continent, recommended a 2004 Korem Isola di Noraghi Cannonau blend. This entertaining reversal of practice meant first selecting the wine, then choosing the meal to accompany it. (Mr. Winner would never dream of such adventure in his inflexible universe.)
The meal began with a beautiful preparation of scallops –perfect temperature, balsamic glaze, puree of peas. Next, succulent foie gras, gelatinous, and today a rarity in
Criticism, when done well, speaks with authority and eloquence, free of bombast and pomposity. Brunello operates in a friendly, familial way, at once formal and informal. The only criticism that might be leveled: one eats too well, lingers too long, and feels too welcome to ever want to say goodnight.
At the Baglioni Hotel
Tel +44 0207 3685900