Monday, 10 March 2014

Luxe Life | io Osteria Personale, Florence, Review

As a birthday treat Mr D booked a table at io Osteria Personale in Florence. On approach this is a very unassuming place, without a hint of pretentiousness. It was well decorated inside with a modern contemporary feel, and the welcome from the staff was very warm, which was not something we found everywhere in Florence.

We opted for the 6 course tasting menu and we requested some matching wines too which weren't on the menu but the owner, Matteo, was happy to cater for us. The tasting menu is not set, it is simply a choice of 5 dishes and each person at the table can select their own dessert. Our meal went as follows:

Some tasty breadsticks to start which all had different flavours through the centre (my favourite was tomato)

Potato, lemon, anchovy and chive soup (compliments of the chef). This was a lovely appetite warmer with a thick consistency and plenty of taste.

Sea bass Tartare (a choice from Mr D). I would definitely not pick this dish as anything tartare doesn't jump out at me, but this made me think twice on picking this next time. The sea bass was served with ricotta, pine kernels, baby spinach and balsamic vinegar. The texture of the sea bass was not what I was expecting and served on a bed of ricotta it gave it a twist of alternative textures, and the tastes of the other ingredients on the plate complimented it perfectly.

Sichuan pepper Mackerel which was served with ginger-cauliflower cream and broccoli. I loved the combination of the strong Mackerel taste with sichuan pepper and ginger.

Pecorino Cheese Panna Cotta. Wow! The cheese panna cotta was a real lip smacker and served with turnip greens, dried fava bean puree and toasted tomato breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs were my favourite aspect of this dish, even though the panna cotta brought a huge smile to my face, the tomato taste was very concentrated in the breadcrumbs and provided a tangy after taste to each mouthful.

Duck Breast was next up and was so tasty that I only managed to picture the empty plate...oops! Served with caper powder, citrus mayo with candied orange and fennel - this was a real unique dish. The fennel left a fresh after taste and complimented the citrus mayo beautifully, whilst the duck was cooked to perfection with a lovely pink colour.

Cinta Senese Pork Fillet was the last of our savoury dishes but by no means the least, antichokes, mint pesto and lemon finished up the dish again with the meat cooked to perfection.

The two desserts we went for were:

Olive Oil Chocolate Souffle with Pear Sorbet. This souffle was a good height and airy texture with a rich chocolate and the sorbet so lightly flavoured that the pear was a hint of taste rather than overwhelming.

White Chocolate and Olive Oil Hot Cream with Lavender Slush. This dessert blew my mind! If I was to recommend one dish that you don't miss, this would be it. The white chocolate and olive oil hot cream acted like a warm soup with a conflict of cold lavender slush on top...heaven!

The wines that stood out that we tasted were; Sparkling Reisling, not one I have come across before but surprisingly close to champagne. Dessert wines, the two picked out for us complimented our desserts well and weren't overpowering and sickly as some can be when not well matched.

In summary, this was a spectacular meal with creative twists but still true to the tuscan region in which the restaurant sits. It wasn't busy on the Tuesday that we visited, in fact for the majority of the meal we were the only ones there, but the atmosphere of the restaurant didn't create an awkward environment in any way. We felt at ease and very welcome throughout. The source of all the ingredients are listed in the menu which is always great to see and I feel that we only scratched the surface of the potential of the menu choices.

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