Test Driving Theo Randall at The Intercontinental

roomThe bar area features a sommelier's table which is ideal for cocktail masterclasses or just perching at before your meal here.

So what do we need to know about Theo Randall at The Intercontinental?

You'll probably recognise Theo from his many stints on TV, but what you may not know is that he's been running this restaurant at the Intercontinental Park Lane for 13 years and before that, he was the head chef of The River Cafe. Even better than having his name over the door, in practice, Theo is in the kitchen for most of the services here - which is something you can't always expect in other big-name chef restaurants.

Where exactly is it?

You'll find the restaurant just inside the entrance to the hotel off Hamilton Place, a stone's throw from Hyde Park Corner which is the nearest tube station. The restaurant was redesigned a few years back and is rather lovely.

We expected it to be rather quiet on a Tuesday evening in August, with half of London on their hols - but it was pleasantly buzzy. There are a couple of large round tables which proved to be good for family groups. If you're after a view into the kitchen there's a high level 'chef's table' as well as a large private dining area.

roomThe high-level chef's table with a direct view into the kitchen

What about pre-dinner drinks?

We made time to have a cocktail in the bar here first, and we were very glad we did. The bar area here got a lot of attention in the refurb, adding a sommelier's table which they use for their regular Negroni classes. Bartender Luigi Cioffi served us up first an immaculate Amalfi lemon martini but the big deal here are their spritzes and negronis.

There's a long list of gins, vermouths and bitters on the menu so you can get the perfect negroni made for you. It can be a little intimidating, so give the bartender an idea of what you like - and he'll make a negroni suited just for your taste.

roomOur negroni - with Gin a la madame, vaniglia del Professone vermouth and cynar bitters. Just right for us. 

So It's an all Italian-menu then?

It is. The menu changes every day, depending on what produce is currently best. The set menu's super value at £29 for two courses and £35 for three courses (including a glass of Prosecco). But we were here to put the big one, the Tasting Menu, through its paces. That's currently five courses for £70 - although it also includes some extras too.

Here's what we had:

roomEvery meal here kicks off with complimentary focaccia soaked in olive oil and some of the best bruschetta we've ever had

roomAnd then you get this platter of courgettes too - but you may want to go easy on these when you know what else is coming.

roomSmoked eel with red and golden beetroots with Italian leaves and fresh horseradish - beautifully prepared eel.  

roomFresh burrata with red peppers, farinata, swiss chard and Taggiasche olives (one of us isn't keen on beetroot, so Theo swapped out the eel dish for this from the a-la-carte menu, a dish that perfectly illustrates how excellent their suppliers are. The burrata was amazing, but then so were those red peppers which had been slow-cooked into sweet submission.

roomCappelletti di vitello - stuffed with slow-cooked veal and pancetta with porcini mushrooms, this is one of Theo's signature dishes and we get why. Gorgeous pasta and we particularly liked the hand-minced veal texture.

roomA very fine chunk of Aberdeen Angus beef fillet with sweet celeriac, Italian spinach, Amarone and salsa verde.

roomCheese course - Italian cheese including Pecorino, Gorgonzola and Taleggio served with mostarda and crackers and paired with tawny port, Passito Solidea from Pantelleria and a Prosecco Superiore.

roomAmalfi Lemon Tart - a textbook example of how lemon tart should be made.

Overall thoughts

We have to wonder why it had taken us thirteen years to finally get around to coming here. Every once in a while you just want to go out for a meal where you know the food will be super, the waiters will be very attentive and you can just be comfortable and happy - this is that place. From the couples celebrating birthdays to the large family groups just getting together on a Tuesday night, this may have been a hotel restaurant, but it really felt like every good Italian restaurant should do - a home from home.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Theo Randall at the Intercontinental. Prices are correct at the time of writing.  


More about Theo Randall at the Intercontinental

Where is it? 1 Hamilton Pl, London W1J 7QY

Find out more: Visit their website or follow Theo on Twitter @theorandall

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