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The definition of elegance, this Grade II-listed neo-Byzantine beauty dates back to 1874 and offers fine Italian dining, at prices as high as the gold mosaic ceiling. The similarly opulent Savini restaurant in Milan dates back to 1867, making this venture a seemingly wise move following the Criterion Restaurant’s descent into administration in summer 2015. The dramatic room features a bar and lounge area, secluded grey booths, chandeliers and glittering marble pillars, soundtracked on our visit by slightly kitsch, old-fashioned Italian tunes and not much else: the room was almost empty (Savini was infamously without a phone line for four months after opening), sapping the atmosphere in such lofty surrounds. A lavish menu redresses the balance however, with not one bum note: pungent yet light artichoke risotto is drizzled with truffle sauce, crowned by carefully cooked pigeon breast; dense pappardelle ribbons are laced with the tang and pepper of wild boar ragu; a slab of foie gras tastes fresher and more vibrant than its appearance suggests, lifted by strands of candied lemon. All-Italian service is as friendly, knowledgeable and classy as this style of dining demands, while classic cocktails and a superb collection of wines offer similarly comprehensive support. Eye-wateringly high prices may also explain a lack of custom for a restaurant at the centre of London’s tourist hub. If the word gets out and London’s fine diners once again fill this historic space, Savini will be a stellar special occasion destination.
Prestige and reputation sure does get repeatedly mentioned in my posts, but this one is a little different. It’s very hard to find a restaurant like the Criterion, a restaurant so quintessentially English and enriched with so much history there’s even a Wikipedia page for it.Breath-taking interior design by architect Thomas Verity in a Grade II* listed building at the heart of Central London makes the Criterion certainly one to visit. I held my mother’s birthday here last year and most recently re-visited the Criterion for Louise’s 21st, and also, for the new breakfast menu...
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