The Handbook
The Handbook

New? This year is actually the restaurants’ 10th anniversary so, to celebrate, the restaurant has been given a new look and the menu has been updated to include new rustic, Italian dishes.

Where? InterContinental London, 1 Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY

On the menu: Split into anti pasti, primi, secondi and puddings, the menu is wonderfully Italian: wholesome, full of flavour and rustic. New dishes include the likes of Sogliola – whole roasted dover sole with lemon parsley and capers with carcofi alla Romana and Swiss chard; Agnolotti di Piccione – fresh pasta stuffed with slow cooked pigeon with Porcini and Trompette de la Mort mushrooms and Cervo – vension loined wrapped in coppa di Parma, roasted with Alatico di Puglia wine with delica squash mash and cavolo nero.

Fresh Pasta with Slow Cooked Pigeon

First Impressions: There were about five or six full tables when we visited, to start it seemed your average hotel restaurant clientele – mainly men on business and a few hotel guests but as it filled up, bigger parties of friends arrived, though the atmosphere was still quite hushed.

The Look: As part of the 10th anniversary, design consultancy SuperFutures have given the restaurant a refurbishment, it’s brighter and lighter than before (although still no windows); we’re told there are over 12 different light settings – fancy. Sage green, light grey and honey-coloured wood set the tone of the open restaurant, it’s elegant and smart without being imposing or intimidating. It still didn’t quite feel like a restaurant in itself, it still had that hotel restaurant feel to it, but perhaps that was because they weren’t as busy as usual.

What We Ate: We knew we were on to a good thing when the antipasti of zucchini fries and tomato bruschetta arrived – crisp batter giving way to fried courgette and bruschetta piled high with rich, sun-drenched tomatoes.  We thought that the fluffy baked fontina cheese soufflé which came in a pool of spinach, cream and Parmesan would be our favourite starter but the fresh buffalo mozzarella with marinated artichoke, farinata, cicorino, Swiss chard and Taggiasche olives was just delicious.

Anjou Pigeon

If there is one dish that you must try though it would be the Cappelletti di vitello – golden handmade pasta the best we’ve tried, stuffed with slow cooked veal and pancetta with porcini mushrooms – don’t share this dish, you’ll want it all for yourself. Anjou pigeon was wood roasted on pagnotta bruschetta and served with smoky pancetta. Italian peas punctuated the meat providing little bursts of freshness. To finish we were treated to a selection of puddings, the highlights being a soft chocolate cake which was one of the most chocolatey things we’ve ever eaten, a sticky walnut and orange tart served with caramelised oranges and of course Theo’s Amalfi lemon tart. Crisp pastry and silky smooth lemon filling, it had just enough zing without being tart.

Amalfi Lemon Tart

Go With: Someone you’re looking to impress or someone who just appreciates very good food and doesn’t mind paying the prices – our main courses were around £35 each.

Final Word: I’ll always love Theo Randall’s cooking, I love how it’s hearty, rich, rustic and superb without being fussy or pretentious and I could eat that pasta for days.