A Truffle Fest at Tartufi & Friends – the Epitome of Luxurious Dining:
There are few things that mark out ‘fine dining’ more than the presence of fresh truffles. At this time of year, what is available is the black Summer Truffle rather than the ‘ultimate’ white truffle. But, for me at least, a dish with fresh truffle always seems just a little decadent.
Where better to put the newly opened Tartufi & Friends Truffle Lounge than in Harrods? In fact, you’ll find the restaurant tucked away in the Wines and Spirits department so, you have to hunt your Truffle Lounge down almost as keenly as if you were out in the woods with a truffle dog looking for the real thing. The trick, gentle reader, if my feature encourages you to visit is to walk round Harrods to the Laduree entrance, make your way into fine watches and take the escalator down into the basement. You can’t walk through into wines and spirits from any other basement area so, if like me, you have no spatial awareness, this is the way that will get you to Tartufi & Friends. That is, of course, if you are not distracted by the macaron in Laduree…
The Truffle Lounge is elegantly fitted out with dark wood, leather and suede complimented by shiny steel buckles and trays. There’s a bar area for casual dining or cocktails and a small but comfortable dining room. You might imagine yourself in the favourite snug of some city gent; a tantalising aroma of truffles gives the place the feeling of a small, exclusive club. The menu is considerably more complex than I’d anticipated, this is somewhere you can enjoy a full meal, although popping in for a plate of bruschetta or a truffled pizza at the bar would also be a real treat.
I started with fresh smoked salmon, ‘Coda Nera’ which is shipped from Italy. Served with a hint of white truffle salt, a garnish of songino and a generous helping of fresh Truffle I was impressed both by the quality of the fish and the portion size. And of course, just a little bit in love with the truffles, at this time of the year from Norcia in Umbria.
The-Hedonist, sitting across the table from me, was ecstatic. His yellowfin tuna tartare of Marsala was also topped with fresh truffles and he happily tucked in, despite the fact that meant destroying the work of art in front of him.
Both of us enjoyed a glass of Gavi di Gavi La Meirana 2013 (£10). Tartufi & Friends, as you’d expect from a truffle lounge with flagship outlets in Milan and Rome, has an all Italian wine list, with plenty of options by the glass.
We went on to share an extra, mostly because you shouldn’t visit and NOT try the fresh truffled pasta. Tagliolino Cacio e Pepe with fresh truffle (£29) was wonderful – just how I’ve always imagined the perfect pasta dish should be; tender home made pasta with just a hint of bite, a rich buttery sauce laced with pecorino and topped with fresh truffle. The-Hedonist was impressed and so was I – a perfect simple dish like this offers the chef nowhere to hide.
My main course was a magnificent Wagyu fillet topped with more fresh truffles and served with a little foie gras. A special for the day, I loved the perfectly cooked steak with its Marsala Rossini sauce.
The-Hedonist meanwhile, was indulged with a dish of sole fillets with cream of potato and truffles.
We went on, though we probably shouldn’t have done so, to enjoy a Tiramisu between us. The Tartufi & Friends version was quite grown-up, very refined and with a wonderfully light textured cream-custard.
And then, a truffled Amaretto. It’s the sort of drink I should only EVER try in a restaurant because I could quite easily drink through a lot more of this nutty, fragrant liqueur.
The-Hedonist by now was in full swing and somehow managed to end up with a truffled whisky sour while I had a much needed coffee. I don’t generally drink whisky based cocktails, but rather liked this pretty, fragrant take on an old classic.
If you too have something of a truffle fetish it’s well worth visiting Tartufi & Friends. Beside the pricier options on the menu for a full lunch or dinner, there are plenty of lighter options including the ‘Grand Classics’ – fried egg with fresh truffle, omelette with fresh truffle, fonduta with fresh truffle. And, a truffled pizza or bruschetta with lardo di Colonnata and fresh truffle, each dish priced at around the £20 mark. Sourcing is immaculate and service excellent. It’s a charming place to spend an hour or two and a real treat.