Tuesday, 3 April 2012


What do you know?  The discerning people at the Love the Garden blog along with Niamh (Eat Like a Girl) Shields chose our carrot halva recipe to win their carrot recipe competition. And the prize is a meal at the restaurant of our choice. Where do we go? Angela Hartnett's Murano. This is how it went...

Murano is in Mayfair. Its understated interior panders to the locals' penchant for taking their pleasures in places designed in a Mogadon-induced trance: the beiges, taupes and deadening plushness would give any airline business lounge a run for its money. As there's no real bar for pre-prandial cocktails, we settle at our table, and yes, feel apprehensive. 

But we soon discover the nice thing about Murano: it's run by women, and, god, what a refreshing difference. They are warm, knowledgeable and laid back about protocol, "no you don't both have to have the tasting menu; you can even mix and match - just do what you like."  In fact, these women are how I imagine Angela Hartnett: warm, friendly, professional and unstuffy.  

We both choose the tasting menu and discover that this same ethos of simplicity and single-mindedness produces seven excellent dishes, which I won't bore you about......well, ok maybe just a bit.  The gnocchi with truffles to start is soothing and intense; the salad of artichokes and pinenuts enlivened with subtle flecks of lemon zest is a triumph of taste and texture; pollack with speck and clams precedes an unctious pork belly, its sweetness heightened  by a quince puree. Here we pause for breath. 

The sommelier, with a reassuringly incomprehensible French accent, is the only man we have encountered so far. He has some good common sense advice asking us firstly how much we like to drink (ahem) and making suggestions that chime perfectly with the varied courses, including the slab of gorgonzola that preempts the caramel souffle. This almost does for us: intensely sweet offset by a caramel bitterness, pillowy and ultimately and tragically unfinishable. 

A chat with the maitre d', a pot of fresh mint and we stagger into the quiet streets at around midnight. 

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