Theo Randall Celebrates His 10yr Anniversary At The Intercontinental, Park Lane
This week I was privileged to attend a very special anniversary dinner. Theo Randall was celebrating 10 years at The Intercontinental on Park Lane and this was one invite I was ALWAYS going to accept. It was not to be a traditional ‘turn up and have some great food’ kind of night, Theo was also giving us a cooking masterclass on how to make the perfect risotto.
First a little about the man himself. Born in Kingston, Theo’s restaurant career began down the road in Surbiton at Chez Max where he studied classical cooking techniques for four years. After a brief stint at The River Café he moved to California before returning to The River Café, becoming Head Chef after five years and subsequently earning his first Michelin Star. In 2007 he moved across to The Intercontinental where he launched his flagship restaurant. Within two years of opening ‘Theo Randall at The Intercontinental’ he won the ‘Italian Restaurant of The Year’ Award at the London Restaurant Awards.
Our night began in the newly refurbished restaurant and bar which incidentally now includes a sommelier’s table perfect for hosting or a pre-dinner drink. Using a palette of muted colours expressed through the use of Italian marble and woods, the restaurant has a modern, contemporary feel and is divided into smaller sections giving a more intimate restaurant experience than in it’s previous incarnation. With the addition of a second private dining room, there are plenty of options to host a great night out for your guests, with the private rooms also being used to host Theo’s regular masterclasses.
After a welcome drink in the bar area, a masterclass was exactly how our night was to get underway. After being led through to the smaller of the two private dining rooms, Theo started by giving us a lesson on how to make the perfect risotto. Being in the same room whilst a Michelin chef cooks for you is quite a coup and an opportunity that I recommend you all enjoy. Using carefully sourced and seasonal ingredients, Theo made it all look so easy and soon we were enjoying a taste of his gorgeous courgette risotto.
With taste buds well and truly tantalised, it was time to start dinner. A splendid four course Italian feast was about to ensue and I for one, could not wait. Our menu was a combination of dishes which can be found on the restaurant and private dining menus. Each course was matched with wines chosen by head sommelier Vittorio Gentile, including a very enjoyable orange wine. Orange wines are not widely available and are usually made in smaller batches but they are well worth tracking down. The majority of Italian orange wine comes from the Friuli-Venezia Giula wine region although smaller producers from outside have now turned their hand to making it as its popularity continues to rise.
Perfectly cooked scallops as expected, translucent and meltingly soft. I thought that the scallops would be the favourite part of this dish but the polenta packed a tasty punch, well seasoned and full of flavour with the turnip greens giving another textural dimension to the dish. Matched wine – Il Tufiello Don Chisciotte Campania-Fiano
There really is nothing more delicious or satisfying than handmade pasta, filled to the brim where the flavours are clearly identifiable and a great, classic combo. The simplicity of this dish is what makes it so flavourful and the sage butter is the perfect accompaniement to balance out the dish. Matching wine – Distesa Terre Silvate Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOCG.
Guinea fowl may not be everyone’s first choice for a protein dish. It is notorious for being easily overcooked and dry. This gamey-flavoured bird in the right hands though can be a triumph and I recommend you give it a go. Perfectly cooked, it was succulent and the addition of prosciutto and mascarpone enhanced an already enjoyable plate. The pagnotta bruschetta under the guinea fowl is a definite nod to rustic Italian cooking and was great as a vehicle to get all of the juices on the plate, don’t waste a drop! Matched wine – Antonio Perrino Testalonga Rossese di Dolceacqua.
Dinner would not be complete without dessert and so with expanding waistlines we forged ahead. Torte Caprese originates from the island of Capri and has a thin crust on top with a softer texture underneath. An intense chocolate hit rounded off with a lovely roasted almond ice-cream. Matching wine – Recioto della Valpolicella Tesauro
I was delighted to be a part of this very special anniversary dinner. If you’ve been to ‘Theo Randall at The Intercontinental’ I don’t need to tell you how amazing the food is, you already know. If you haven’t been then this is one to add to your list. And while you’re at it have a look at those masterclasses, with lunch etc included, they’ll make for a memorable day out for any foodie.