Restaurant Review: Giannino

The first foreign outpost of this Milan-born brand delivers modern Italian with clean flavours
Friday , 05 October 2012

INFO: Giannino, Meydan Beach Club,

Set in the Meydan Beach Club, the restaurant has travelled far from its roots in Milan where it was established as a family business in 1899. It survived two world wars, emerging unscathed, and later earning two Michelin stars in 1970. This is an eatery of serious pedigree: in 1981 it became a member of the exclusive French vino guide Traditions et Qualité, and in 1998 chef and entrepreneur Davide Oldani earned the restaurant yet another Michelin star. Giving it a modern makeover, businessman Lorenzo Tonetti took over and relaunched the brand in a more central location. The venue counts the Beckhams, Giorgio Armani and Justin Timberlake among its regulars. While we’re not exactly that famous, we know our food, so here’s the culinary lowdown.

To get the taste buds going, Giannino delivered a langoustine carpaccio with preserved lemon, basil and olive oil. The texture was incredibly soft and this aspect was what delivered most pleasure from the plate – preserved lemon is a robust flavour that is probably best attached to less delicate proteins, so unfortunately it overwhelmed the langoustine. We moved to the wafer-thin roast lamb slices accompanied by pickled mushrooms. We’d have preferred there to be more astringency in the pickling, but otherwise it was fresh and light. Before everything seemed a little too clean in terms of flavour, we steered, thankfully, into bolder territory with the arrival of the pumpkin soup with mushroom (recipe featured). This certainly made more of an impression on the palate. The mix of soft pumpkin chunks, purée and meaty mushroom was a great combination of textures. The individual ingredients each sang out from the bowl, but were still beautifully balanced – soup in this manifestation could never be called boring.

An Italian meal without pasta would be incomplete, so the potato and green bean ravioli was welcomed with open arms and eager forks. The ravioli required a firm push with the fork to break – exactly as it should. The filling was smooth thanks to the potato and, again, each component maintained its integrity. The drizzle of fresh pesto made for a pasta dish you couldn’t fault in terms of execution. Next was the sea bass with citrus broth, asparagus and tomatoes. Sea bass is the fish du jour and we’re not always sure why, but this rendition did well to convince us of its merits. The crunch of the asparagus against the softness of the fish and tomatoes, combined with the citrus broth was a delightful mouthful and certainly something we’d eat again.

Giannino saved the best for last with the arrival of the grilled octopus tentacle. Staring down at a full tentacle on a plate was a first-time experience, and while it may not have been love at first sight, it was love at first bite. The exterior was crisp, giving way to flesh that was just slightly firmer than lobster. The meatiness of the octopus meant it stood its ground against the rosemary, and in a few mouthfuls, the whole thing was gone. We were very pleased to see Giannino finish strongly – the octopus was a revelation. Giannino’s execution was faultless throughout, albeit on the side of playing too safe in terms of flavour. Be bold in your menu choices and you’ll undoubtedly be impressed by the finesse that only the Milanese can deliver.

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