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volante: england

Winner a whiner, dinner a winner
Winner a whiner, dinner a winner

Brunello Ristorante


A recent review of the Brunello Ristorante by Michael Winner has Stanley Moss puzzled as to which parallel universe the former film director resides in


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 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 marvellous 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 Moët & 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 London, as some restaurants have removed the delicacy from their menus. On to the pasta course, a fine variation of the classic tagliatelli Bolognese, with knife-cut chunks of veal as opposed to the traditional ground meat, noodles cooked to perfection, the sauce hearty and robust with generous chunks of pomidoro. Also sampled a linguini with shrimp in a cream sauce, delicate, a bit too subtle for the red wine, but ideally balanced with a glass of sauvignon blanc from the Alto Adige, as suggested by the ever-attentive Simon. Finally to the main course, Sella d’agnello, a rack of Scottish lamb done pink and piping, with lovely fennel, scallion, haricot vert and carrot. And an impulsive request for some mashed potatoes, which arrived from the kitchen in moments, hinting of garlic and butter. When finally the table cleared, a last course of goat cheese, Tallegio, a Pecorino Romano, and a creamy Gorgonzola accompanied by Mostarda di Cremona, grapes and walnut. Only a small taste of Amaro Montenegro could complete the experience, and did so with a whisper of sweet adieu. This was a meal to be remembered.

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 levelled: one eats too well, lingers too long, and feels too welcome to ever want to say goodnight.


Brunello Ristorante
Baglioni Hotel London
60, Hyde Park Gate
Telephone 44 20 7368-5900


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An especially poor hatchet job by Michael Winner appeared on August 19, taking to task the Brunello Ristorante. A follow-up reality check reveals that Mr Winner occupies a parallel universe where nothing ever goes right


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