Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ristorante Quadri, Venice

Quadri, Venice, 3/22/2017 (7-Course, 215 Euro incl. VAT & Grat.), Italian, Michelin 1-Star

Quadri is located right in the heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco. If you face the famous Basilica of San Marco, it is in the middle of left wing of the piazza. Ristorante Quadri is located above the Gran Café Quadri which is on the street level, although both belong to the same chef/owner Massimiliano Alajmo at present. Ristorante Quadri has received a Michelin star since 2012. In 2011, Chef Alajmo took over and renovated Ristorante Quadri without changing its name, probably because Café Quadri has had an important historical role of being the 1st Café introduced the Turkish coffee in Venice. He then sent the accomplished sous-chef in Le Calandre (Chef Alajmo’s Michelin 3-star restaurant near Padua) in charge of Ristorante Quadri’s kitchen which offers fusion style of modern Italian and Northern Italian cuisine. Chef Alajmo is the youngest in history to have been awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide.

Dining room is decorated with dark-wood furnishings, lush burgundy damask walls, and sparkling chandeliers create a typical rich Venetian ambience. If you happen to like the Venetian master Titian’s work, you will enjoy the setting in Quadri. 

There are 4 sets of Tasting menus – laguna 7-course, laguna 5-course, quadri 7-course and quadri 5-course. I selected laguna 7-course with slight changes. In addition, there is a la carte menu.

It started with 2 courses of Amuse Bouche:

I. Trio

1. Quail egg stuffed with egg yolk and tuna sauce and covered by anchovy. Anchovy is glazed with chicken broth jelly. Even though I am usually not a fan of anchovy, this dish of anchovy was ultra fresh and tasty.

2. Miniature pie crust was stuffed with celery cream and topped with the diced sea snail (garusoli) from the local lagoon. Sea snails are larger than the snails served in the French restaurants; its meat is a bit firmer than escargot’s and both types are delicious.

3. Focaccia with black rice at the bottom, topped with vegetable tartar including puréed red beet and carrot to provide the burgundy color. On the very top it was soy mayonnaise to provide the overall sophisticated taste.

II. Steamed Pizza Cicchetto

Cicchetti sometimes spelled cichetti in Venetian language, includes tiny sandwiches, plated of olives or other vegetables, halved hard boiled eggs, small snacks served "bàcari" (cicchetti bars or orosterie) in Venice, Italy. This is one of the signature dishes imported from Le Calandre since the sous-chef of Le Calandre is in charge of Quadri’s kitchen at present. The small slice of whole wheat pizza was steamed with a texture between pizza and bread. The topping was quite good, comprised of zucchini, yellow pepper, green pepper, beet root, pumpkin cream and some sesame seed topping. All vegetables were cooked with the perfect texture and flavor.

There were two types of bread served – ciabatta bread and bread sticks made with oregano and dried tomatoes.

1st Course –    1) Dentex Carpaccio, Spring Salad Greens, Tarragon Mayonnaise
                        2) Crispy Raw Shrimp

1) Dentex is considered the most difficult catches for the beginner and the most valuable species of fish from the Mediterranean Sea. Although it is delicious, Dentex is not the most delicious. I had cooked Dentex once in Croatia just recently. The cooked Dentex tasted almost like sea bass, however the flesh a bit smoother than sea bass. The sashimi style Dentex actually brought out the flavor of Dentex to a higher level. When I inquired about the prep process, I was informed it required only olive oil.  

2) Raw shrimp was from Sardinia, it was covered by crispy rice puffs and topped with lobster-flavored mayonnaise and Osetra caviar. It was fresh and sweet.

2nd Course – Baccalà Baccalà Baccalà Baccalà, 4 styles

Bacaalà is dried and salted cod. Since it is heavily salted for preservation, all bacaalà requires soaking before it can be used. Cod which has been dried but without the addition of salt is stockfish.

1) Smoked polenta with whipped stockfish and Osetra caviar.

2) Julienned tomato with fresh stockfish tripes alla parmigiana in black garlic sauce.
This is definitely my favorite among these 4 styles. Fish tripes taste like stripes of slice sea scallop, tender, juicy and tasty.

3) Fried stockfish throats, artichokes stripes which is crispy outsider and soft inside.

4) This is Baccalà Vicentina style, a traditional dish of the Veneto region. Dried cod is simmered in milk until it becomes smoothly creamy. This creamy dried Baccalà was placed at the bottom of the bowl, topped with red onion sorbet and chips of riso venere (black rice chips.) This is also one of the signature dishes of Quadri. It involved diversified and complicated preparation.

3rd Course – Spaghettone with “alla busara” with Mantis Prawn Baby Lagoon Shrimp and Cuttlefish Eggs

Mantis shrimp’s flesh is closer to that of lobster than that of shrimp, and like lobsters, their shells are quite hard and require some pressure to crack. Usually they are deep fried with garlic and chilly peppers. In the Mediterranean countries Mantis shrimp is a common seafood, especially on the Adriatic coasts.

This is a pasta dish with thicker size of spaghetti. It was served with 2 different kinds of sauce. One was the tomato sauce with puréed fried mantis shrimp, mixed with spaghettone. The other was cuttlefish eggs with basil and cream sitting along the bottom of the spaghettone. Tomato sauce was superb because of Mantis shrimp’s enhancement, cuttlefish cream made the seafood flavor more intense.

4th Course – Venetian Style Deep Fried Fish (Lobster, Squid, Soft-shelled Crabs and Spring Vegetables)

Fried seafood was placed in a paper bag imitating the ancient Venetian’s way of eating fried seafood. It was served with mustard mayonnaise. Each item was coated with light batter. There were two pieces of tender and juicy lobster meat, one piece of tender squid, two pieces of string beans and one piece of carrot. Restaurant manager emphasized this dish is also one of Quadri’s signature dishes, with more focus on the presentation of an ancient way of serving seafood.

5th Course – Lamb Chops with Rhubarb Meat Jus Parmigiano Purée and Fried Artichoke

I have been longing for good lamb chops from day 1 of the trip ever since I heard that lambs in the Adriatic Sea coast lines are fed with various kinds of herbs such as thymes and rosemary. In this dish, lamb came from Wales, lamb chops were trimmed and boned except the long rib bones still remained. Chops were cooked rare-medium with excellent texture, served with mashed potato with parmigiano cheese and artichoke heart. Sauce was made of meat juice from cooking and rhubarb juice.

6th Course – Sour Cherry Sorbet with Almond Mousse and Berries

This course is a palate cleanser. Sour cherry sorbet had a very delightfully pungent taste; almond mousse is not the foamy type. It was in between a mousse and foamy custard, but with smooth taste in the mouth. Berries were fresh and a good accompaniment of almond mousse.

7th Course – Salted Caramel Puff Pastry with Coffee and Tonka Bean

Tonka beans look like an elongated raisin or a hard, skinny date. The taste of Tonka Bean is linked strongly with its scents like vanilla, almond, cherry and cinnamon. Chefs crave them for its spicy and fruity aroma which can be used in both savory and sweet applications. Tonka beans are usually shaved, a preparation to release its pungent aroma and subtle flavor. Unfortunately, all foods that contain the chemical compound coumadin are considered by the FDA to be "adulterated" and have technically been illegal since 1954. Tonka beans are a major source of coumarin, therefore, not available in US.

The overall taste was almost like mild mocha, almond and caramel. The puffy pastry, looked like a Napoleone, was finely made with crispy layers, but not greasy. Around the pastry, there were a few drops of licorice syrup. It was not a heavy desert in terms of quantity and ingredients, although I could have a bit more.

Petit Fours

One miniature White Chocolate Cup Filled with White Chocolate Cream and Topped with ½ Raspberry
One miniature Milk Chocolate Cup Filled with Milk Chocolate Cream and Topped with Almond
One miniature Dark Chocolate Cup Filled with Dark Chocolate Cream and Chocolate Crumbs

The petit fours looked delicate and tasted light and delicious, at this moment your stomach only had limited empty space. 

Without of doubt it is pricey at Ristorante Quadri, comparing with other Michelin 1-starred restaurants in Europe. Quadri charges what market can bear probably because of its prime location, being a name steeped in history and being the only Michelin Starred restaurant in the city center of Venice. However, I enjoyed my total fine dining experience at Quadri. While you are dining in the classic and opulent Venetian style dining room, you may also have the extensive view of the piazza thru its tall windows. In addition to the visual pleasure, you can also get the extra gastronomical treats imported from Chef Alajmo’s Le Calandre.

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