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Aldrovandi Palace Hotel, 15 Via Ulisse Aldrovandi, Rome, Italy

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Baby is set in the very smart Aldrovandi Palace hotel, and on this lovely autumn evening we were able to sit on the terrace, overlooking beautifully maintained gardens. The menu was fairly modern in style, with a tasting menu at EUR 115, antipasta dishes around EUR 25, pasta, EUR 26 and main courses EUR 32-35. The wine list was 16 pages long, mostly but not exclusively populated by Italian wines. Jermann Dreams 2006 was EUR 75 for a wine that costs about EUR 40 in the shops, Vintage Tunina was also EUR 75 for a wine with a retail price of about EUR 40. Antinori Tignanello 2005 was EUR 110 for a wine that costs about EUR 55 in the shops. Bread was a selection of olive rolls, foccacia, breadsticks and brown rolls, and was pleasant but no more than that (15/20).

Tuna with almonds with a smear of bean sauce had good tuna and just a hint of an orange marinade (16/20). Ravioli stuffed with fresh caciaotta cheese and marjoram with a sauce of basil and Vesuvian cherry tomatoes looked very pretty but was a surprising let-down when it came to taste, under seasoned and with merely decent pasta (15/20). This was better than organic egg and green beans with Madras curry oil, which again was prettily presented but for such a simple dish you need great ingredients with wonderful flavour, rather than the tasteless beans here (13/20).

My main course was literally just deep fried squid, deep fried prawn and deep fried anchovy, with a pot of beetroot sauce. This looked like the kind of thing you might get at a smart chip shop rather than something leaving a Michelin starred kitchen. If you are going to go this way then it could perhaps be done if the batter is gossamer light as in the top tempura places in Tokyo, but no: this was just regular batter encasing some fairly ordinary squid (12/20). Pasta with cheese, pepper and scorpion fish had pasta with nice texture but again with subdued flavours (15/20).  

A pre-dessert of blackberry soup with a peach and cinnamon mousse was not properly sieved, so there were pips in the mousse, and yet again the fruit itself lacked much taste (12/20). Better was a rum baba, which was moist, with apricot jam and marsala egg nog, but a random addition of a few slices of pineapple and strawberry was ill-conceived (15/20). A coffee waffle with coffee cream and sabayon suffered from a rather hard waffle, though the coffee flavour was OK (14/20). 

Petit fours included a dried out fruit sponge, a soggy almond pastry and a decent lemon sponge (overall 13/20). A small portion of espresso was EUR 8, as was a top up - yep, another small drizzle of coffee, another EUR 8. Overall the cooking here fell well short of the standards of a Michelin starred restaurant. Especially disappointing was the lack of flavour in many dishes, the carelessness in places (the poor petit fours) and the odd mix of pretty presentation with the crudeness of my main course. This was EUR 270 for two even with some reduction made to the bill.

A thoroughly dispiriting experience all round.

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  • PAUL RUDZINSKI

    I think you're being a bit kind Andy. I ate there last year and found the whole meal absolutely shocking.

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