Christian Puglisi’s restaurant in Copenhagen is serving top quality food in a laid back bistro style, informal and unpretentious atmosphere that has a neighbourhood feel. Drawing on a core of seasonal and regional produce, but allowing a small bit of global influence, Puglisi's food is interesting and innovative. A stunning and very clever dish of cauliflower, bergamot and mackerel demonstrated a style that can have bold flavours, each holding its own ground but marrying together beautifully to create a clean finish. The same can be said for a fantastic and interesting dessert of apple and mushroom. A course of frozen blue cheese with herbs was a light and different take on a cheese course and worked brilliantly. The only let down on our 7 course tasting menu was a rather awful serving of chewy lamb with fava beans that tasted like falling into a mucky swamp. At around €100 for a 7 course tasting menu Relae represents excellent value, especially by Copenhagen standards. The service is engaging, knowledgeable and fun. Relae is an excellent restaurant and highly recommended if visiting Copenhagen.
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formel B, Copenhagen
There are many great restaurants in Copenhagen now and more opening each year. In our 3 visits we have been lucky enough to have eaten some amazing meals, but formel B was not one such meal. The food was dull, clumsy and very quickly forgettable. In fact, a decent turbot dish and some perfectly cooked sweetbreads were the only positives that we took away from this meal. The rest was an array of poorly executed, seen many times before, dishes. There were leaves and greens where there shouldn’t have been, badly chopped and sliced components and portioning that wasn’t quite right. Anyway, suffice to say that we will not be returning on future visits to Copenhagen and there are much better restaurants in this price range.
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We have already reviewed Amuse this year, see here, but just a quick note about a rather good lunch we have had there since. There are too many restaurants that have very good dinner and tasting menus, but offer up dull lunch or pre-theatre servings. So it is great to see Conor Dempsey, Amuse’s chef patron, doing it the right way. The lunch menu was as well executed and showed the same care and attention as on the tasting menu we had previously. Dempsey is still developing Amuse, but he is investing his resources in the right things and the restaurant continues to improve. This is a very good to see and the lunch menu, at €29 for 3 courses or €40 for 4 courses, offers great value and a great lunch option in Dublin.
In the Regina Isabella hotel in Laco Ameno on the island of Ishcia young local chef Pasquale Palamaro is serving some creative and local inspired food. His food shows a lightness of touch and an excellent palate. An opening dish of scallop carpaccio was a delicate and cleansing start to our tasting menu. A moreish, but surprisingly light serving of spaghetti with mullet roe, grilled pine nuts, lemon zest had a beautiful freshness to it. This best dish, in fact it was one of those rare perfect 10 out of 10 dishes, was pumpkin consomme, with a pumpkin gel, provolone tortellini and tiny balls of truffle. The gel bursts to thicken the consumme and all married together harmoniously with the tiny bits of truffle giving an earthiness. Desserts were a slight let down however. Porcini mushrooms with a seawater foam felt like there could be a great dish there somewhere, but wasn’t quite finished. Lemon with liquorice was missing any flavour of liquorice. The order of the courses felt a little bit wrong too with the savoury servings finishing with the smallest lightest dish. Service was quite formal, but very attentive and €90 for our 5 course dessert felt like good value. In all Indaco is a very nice restaurant, with a beautiful view overlooking the gulf of Naples, serving light flavoursome and innovative dishes and if you find yourself on the Island of Ischia then Indaco is definitely worth a visit.
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Pipero al Rex, Rome
Just off the Via Nationale in the Hotel Rex in Rome, you will find the charming restaurant of Pipero al Rex. On the main the food is clever, balanced, well thought out and delivered with aplomb. An elegant serving of duck tartare was an excellent start to our tasting menu and worked beautifully with a mustard puree. A rich and warming dish of egg poached in tea with potato puree was moreish, with chopped hazelnuts adding the much needed texture that made this dish work. Another highlight was that a dish of rigatoni with broccoli, sausage and pecorino foam, but felt just slightly over seasoned. Desserts were decent, if not up to the standard of the proceeding courses and the only let down was an overly salty and quite average carbonara which was too big and rich for a 6 course tasting menu. Service was a little bit rushed and slightly conceited at times and €100 for the six course menu was decent enough value. Pipero al Rex provides some beautiful and tasty dishes that manage to both comforting and interesting, prepared by a clearly talented kitchen team in a cosy and intimate dining room in the centre of Rome.
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