I have been trying to navigate Rome’s culinary landscape paying particular attention to various categories I have established as compulsory from my research. Gelato, Pizza, Roman Jewish food, 5th Quarter, Salumeria’s / Bottega’s, family run Trattoria’s & Nouveau / Modern Cuisine.
Last night I treated myself to a meal at Palatium, Enoteca Regionale; a concept restaurant initiated by the Lazio Agriculture Agency (www.arsial.regione.lazio.it) to promote local Wine, Produce and processes. A somewhat sterile experience ordained by gleaming light boxes, flat screen TV’s and uptight foodie’s abound. When approaching Modern Restaurant fare in Italy I tend to have a skeptical approach; as a traveler I expect any financial discrepancy to be noticeably represented in every element of my dining experience; service, plating, ingredients, glassware and overall feeling. Ultimately I want to feel it was worth it; that the smile on my face is suffice to not only justify the spend, but I expect my pen/mind to be moving automatically with critical thoughts and inspirations for this very blog (http://msteadyeats.blogspot.com/2007/07/inn-of-blu.html). Indifference is my biggest fear in life…
As a single diner, I have been treated with the full spectrum of hospitality. Knowing that I generally represent less $ than my neighbors, my hope is always that my passion for knowledge and grasp of the medium will help facilitate a welcome experience. Not always the case. My waiter seemed swamped; had that blushed look like he couldn’t deal; odd considering the Restaurant was not crowded. Where I work, perhaps I take for granted not only the calmness of our waiters, but also their outfits (surprisingly tasteful and well researched).
A recommended rich Merlot accompanied a plate of local Salumi. I decided not to begin sampling until my waiter returned to tell me each name and origin; a request made 3 times. I would have normally felt snobbish for my persistence, but this Restaurant specifically claims its regionalism on its sleeve. My expectations are literally what they promote. The cured meats were excellent, but I would have preferred a better differentiation between textures. They were all relatively thickly sliced and deep in tone and texture. I wish there had been a buttery carefully hand carved Prosciutto to lighten my meals commencement.
I decided to skip the Primi’s in order to delve deep into a rich meaty dish. I have biasly decided that my pasta meals in the kitchen where I work, pre-dinner, rival all local pasta. Each Secondi plate came with a scandalously long description; had I been able to understand it, I would be able to regurgitate it here. Instead all I have is my eyes and taste buds (and notes and photos ;). I ordered a Rabbit Sage & Mustard stew served with Lentils. It was rich and tangy, tender, but relatively obvious. I found its presentation to be troppo (much). Splashes of its sauce adorned the plate’s perimeter, chiffonaded sage leaves scattered for douses of fresh pungency. Although very good, I didn’t taste a the paragraph description worth of nuance I was anticipating. Va bene!
I did enjoy a trip to the Bathroom which exposed an aerial view of the kitchen.
Dessert followed, a rather tepid experience consisting of a dry Chocolate tart laced with Walnuts. Basta, finito, grazie, arrivederci.
Considering the wealth of brochures, slow food accolades and self congratulatory ornamental stimulation, my meal was surprisingly mediocre…especially for the cost.