A friend of mine is leaving these fair shores in September and as such she is working through her 'bucket list' of must do's before she goes. That's how we found ourselves at the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli.
It's not much to look at from the outside but stepping inside, we were greeted by low lighting and elegant decor and after a cheeky Prosecco at the bar, we were led to our table. Given it was a bucket list event, I asked whether we could have a photo taken and despite the general rule in place to preserve the ambience - no phones and no cameras - our waiter generously obliged.
This is Italian, Italian, Italian all the way down to its bootstraps. The wine list is enormous and allows you to select your wine by region. We went for a bottle of Calabrian red for £33.50 (at the lower end of the range of prices) and it was delicious. OK we had two bottles but it was between 5 of us.
To start, our group was split between the char-grilled squid and the Special of the Day, a delicate sardine salad. Both were absolutely delicious and there was many a 'mmmmm' from around the table. The mains ordered were more diverse. The langoustine was a big hit, the goat ragu full of flavour and I absolutely loved my cappellacci with ricotto and asparagus.
Our girl was not a fan of the Calamarata she ordered - not that she thought it was badly cooked but it just wasn't to her taste. And the staff could not do enough. She was offered something else to replace it, the charge was removed from the bill and we were also treated to a sharing platter of sorbets. It was the most extraordinary service - it's not everywhere that will bend over backwards just because you don't like something. Five stars just for this.
The evening rolled on. There was a little dolci (easily THE BEST tira misu I have ever tasted - and I've tasted a few) and a swig or two of punchy espresso, served with a platter of sweet accompaniments including fluffy amaretto biscuits and something that I think was crystallised mandarin. And before we knew it, our taxi had arrived to transport us to the promised land of after dinner cocktails elsewhere.
I have never dined in a Michelin-starred restaurant before and to be honest I had wondered what all the fuss was about. Now I know. The food was exquisite, the service impeccable and the atmosphere the epitome of understated style.
The bill for 5 of us including 2 bottles of wine, 3 courses for all but one of us plus coffee came to just over £300 - and we left a 20% tip so all up it came to about £75 each. Worth every single penny I'd say.
You should definitely add this to your bucket list.