Thursday 6 December 2007

New Kid on the Block.....

So.....finally..... it opened!

'Gilly d'Ottone
' - the new incarnation of 'Col Legno', which has been the object of much interest over the past few months. 'Col Legno' was our local version of a greasy spoon, I suppose - cheerful, and simple, and (truth be told) rather grubby round the edges, with a loo that would have given Health & Safety instant heart failure. Family-owned and run, with a chianti-infused enthusiasm that stood in for any actual skill in the kitchen. A two-course lunch for two, including a carafe of house white that would take the enamel off your teeth, would leave you with change from a tenner (and we're talking euros here, not sterling...) and I have to say, they weren't undercharging. Located only half a dozen doors away from us, Col Legno could have become a regular on the list - but, in point of fact, we went only once. The combination of factors somehow wasn't an argument for a repeat experience........

And so, early in the summer, Col Legno hauled away all their kitchen equipment, put up their shutters for good, and departed (in fact, to rather more elegant premises in Via Mercanti.....somebody's Granny has died and they're investing the inheritance, I suspect). And in place of Col Legno's lace-edged curtains, some rather smart boards appeared, announcing the imminent opening 'in October' of Gilly d'Ottone - which all looked rather high-design and serious. Intrigued both by the prospect of a decent restaurant practically next door, and with the nosiness comprehensible only to those who have lived with a building project of their own, we watched progress with interest. Slowly, slowly ........walls were demolished and new structures raised (actually, not entirely accurate - builders are always quick to do the demolition-and-causing-maximum-mess bit, it's the subsequent raising of new structures that moves at snail's pace....), doors refurbished, new floor which point it became impossible to follow the more cosmetic treatment from the street, as the doors remained resolutely closed. Eventually, and squeezing in just before the end of November - which isn't bad slippage, at all - they had their grand opening.........and we waited several days before giving it a try.

Gone for good are the days of the greasy spoon! Broad horizontal stripes in light and dark grey around the walls, and a cluster of exuberant - and over-bright - crystal chandeliers have turned the interior into a combination of Orvieto Cathedral and a Milanese bordello! Bad decoration generally promises good food, though, and the rule wasn't proved wrong on this occasion, either: delicious starters (something called a Fagottino, which included hazelnuts and ground veal, with an intense and richly complicated sauce) and a very good dessert - a vanilla semifreddo inside a thin, dark chocolate shell (bought in, I suspect) and with a layer of rum-infused cake nestled inside the top of the shell. The main course was a little dull - baked salmon - but perhaps not a decent test of the kitchen. Wine was good, service was friendly - if a little nervous - and the bill was agreeably low.

All of which definitely adds up to a reason to go back. Partly to be supportive; partly from pure gastronomic self-interest; and partly on the basis that if we become regular enough clients, we might even be able to persuade them to fit a dimmer switch to the chandeliers!

Tonight's dinner:

Poached Eggs, on Sprue and Creamed Spinach.

Salmon Fishcakes, with Sweetcorn & Green Pepper.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Mousse.

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