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Ibla

89 Marylebone High Street, London, England, W1M 3DE, United Kingdom

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For this meal we sat in the back part of the dining room, which had quite a quite cosy feel with its red walls and low-ceiling. To begin with we had some rather ordinary nibbles e.g. fried squid, some pate on a little toast, baby tarts with finely chopped Mediterranean vegetables and stuffed tomatoes (12/20). The first course was a trio of raw fish: salmon topped with crème fraiche, dill and a crisp, prawn tartare topped with a cooked prawn and tuna topped with cold soft-boiled quail egg, each shredded and packed into little cylindrical shapes. This was very good, the fish very fresh (14/20). The risotto was of the authentic variety, in this case made with stock of quail rather than chicken, but using Arborio rice, topped with a few wild mushrooms and a slice of quail, all scented with rosemary (14/20).

My best course was an excellent fillet of venison, served with a reduction of the cooking juices, an apple sauce, a few baby mushrooms and a little green cabbage; the meat was pink and of very high quality, nicely hung (17/20). Dessert was a honey mousse, layered between caramel and almond tuiles, topped with a raspberry and a sprig of mint, with a drizzle of very intense blackcurrant sauce to the side (15/20). The only worrying slip was my wife’s main course, a simple dish of sea bass with a cream-based sauce that was accompanied by a pool of balsamic vinaigrette that was not fully integrated into the sauce. The sea bass was not cooked through and was raw except for the very edge of the fish, though it tasted OK after it was sent back and re-cooked. This was served with a ball of rather dull spinach.

The wines with the meal were excellent e.g. Vermentino di Gallura 1999 from Capichera with the fish tartare, Ciro Classico Reserva Duca San Felice 1995 from Librandi with the risotto. Best was a wine not on the list, a Barbaresco 1995 from Bruno Gaicosa, perhaps one of the best three or so producers. At £35 retail this is a beautifully structured wine that was a fine foil for the game. Dessert wine was a lovely La Passule 1994 from Librandi, where the grapes are, hung on racks to dry before being pressed, giving a lovely intensity of rich fruit. Service was friendly if sometimes inattentive, while the bread was a major let-down, just hard foccacia and a selection of other very poor Italian bread. (10/20). Coffee was fine (14/20).

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