Last month, InterContinental launched ‘La Dolce Vita’ weekend brunch at Theo Randall featuring the chef’s signature favourites and brunch classics with an Italian twist. Guest contributor Adrienne Fung visited the award-winning restaurant in Mayfair on behalf on Mondomulia and shared her review.
The other weekend, I had the chance to visit Theo Randall at the InterContinental Park Lane with a friend to preview their new “La Dolce Vita” brunch. The set menu includes unlimited access to the Antipasti Table, a choice of a primi, secondi, and access to the dessert buffet (the price is £45 per person). Patrons can also add on bottomless Prosecco or Bloody Maria’s cocktails for an additional £20.
The restaurant is led by Head Chef Theo Randall, a British-born chef who earned a Michelin star while at The River Café. Randall grew a deep appreciation for Italian cuisine while going on holidays to rural Italy as a child with his parents. Having won numerous awards including Best Italian Restaurant of The Year from the London Restaurant Awards and published two cookbooks, Randall has become an authority figure on Italian cuisine over the last decade and a half.
About 10 years ago, I spent 6 months living in Florence where I developed a similar adoration for Italian cuisine. During this time, I had the opportunity to visit small farms in Tuscany where we sampled aperitivo of Italian breads, fresh-pressed olive oil, ripe tomatoes and thick slices of Pecorino cheese. While so simple, this still remains one of my fondest food memories. Upon hearing about Theo Randall’s “La Dolce Vita” Italian brunch, I was really looking forward to paying a visit and transporting myself back to Tuscany for an afternoon.
We arrived around 1:30pm on a Sunday and the brunch was already in full swing. When walking in, the first thing I noticed was that the restaurant didn’t have windows. Perhaps it was because it was brunch or because the theme was “La Dolce Vita”, but the lack of natural light in the restaurant space felt like a miss in ambiance. Plus, it happened to be a beautiful sunny day in London so some windows would have done us some good!
Upon being seated, our waiter carefully walked us through the menu and provided us with some personal recommendations. For the primi, he recommended the Cappelletti di Vitello, a handmade pasta stuffed with slow cooked veal and pancetta with porcini mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. We decided to take the waiter up on his recommendation as well as try the Ravioli di Erbette, a mixed green ravioli with Swiss chard, rocket, ricotta, butter and sage. For the secondi, my friend ordered the Tagliata Steak served with Castelluccio lentils, while I went for the whole roasted Dover Sole with parsley and capers (another one of our waiter’s recommendations). Once our orders were placed, we were encouraged to take full advantage of the antipasti table, which we were glad to do.
The antipasti spread was certainly impressive. There were platters full of colourful mixed salads, seasonal grilled vegetables, cured meats and cheeses, bruschetta, smoked salmon, and more.
One could easily make a full meal out of the antipasti offerings alone. Some of our favourites included the thinly sliced prosciutto, fresh mozzarella di bufala with olive tapenade, and beef carpaccio salad with courgette, rocket, pine nuts and shaved Parmesan cheese. We had to practice some serious self-restraint not to fill up on the antipasti in order to make room for the courses to follow.
Shortly after, the pasta courses arrived. Both were delicious, but we preferred the ravioli more. They were delicate, buttery and fragrant. Our only complaint was that there could have been more. Both pastas were served in dainty portions of 2 ravioli or cappelletti per plate.
The secondi, on the other hand, were quite large. The tagliata steak was cooked well, but it was quite a heavy dish, perhaps better suited for dinner rather than brunch.
The dover sole was also a fine dish, cooked and seasoned nicely.
At this point in the meal, we weren’t sure how we’d possibly fit in dessert but nevertheless, a sample of three different cakes were brought to our table and we were glad they were. The almond torta cake was one of the best I’ve had- a moist cake with crunchy bits of almond, not too sweet and full of flavour. There was also a chocolate cake and lemon tart, but the almond cake stole the show.
All in all, Theo Randall’s Italian brunch is well worth a visit for the food and impeccable service if you can forgo the atmosphere. The antipasti, pastas, and almond torta were clear highlights whereas the secondi courses, while nice, weren’t as memorable. We would have happily forgone the secondi in exchange for larger portions of pasta or perhaps some more brunch focused options instead.
Words and photos by Adrienne Fung.
Disclaimer: Adrienne was a guest of the restaurant. All opinions are her own.