Il Ghiottone

388-1 Shimokawara-cho-dori, Tonomae saguru, Yasakakaminachi, Kyoto, Japan

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This Italian restaurant near the Hokanji temple is up a narrow lane which our taxi refused to try to traverse, though in fact the taxi that the restaurant ordered for our return happily did so and pulled up outside the restaurant. Anyway, from the main road it is only a three minute walk up to the imposing black pagoda at the top of the slope; turn left past some trees and you are at the restaurant entrance.

The ground floor dining room has a tiled floor and low ceiling, with a rather odd choice of muzak playing: various South American ballads. There is an open kitchen and a couple of little gardens at either end of the dining room, which is a nice touch.

We began with scallops and chilled pumpkin soup with vanilla foam, poured over avocado ice cream. The scallops were of good quality, with inherent sweetness, and were cooked properly, but I didn't find the dish components worked well together. For me vanilla is a difficult flavour with savoury dishes, and the ice cream just seemed one element too many (12/20).

Tuna carpaccio with rocket salad and cold mushrooms featured reasonable tuna and good rocket leaves with a simple dressing (13/20). This was followed by spaghetti with mackerel, the spaghetti itself having good texture, the mackerel pleasant (13/20).

My main course was pork with mozzarella, alongside aubergine, tomato, basil, capers and olives; the pork was nice enough, while the vegetables were unexceptional (12/20). My wife had bass with assorted char grilled vegetables and fried sage leaves; the fish was cooked a little longer than ideal but was reasonable (12/20).

Dessert was a compote of peach with basil sorbet and tomato jelly. The peach itself was ripe but I felt the combination of this with basil and tomato did not work at all (11/20). There was some very good crusty bread served throughout the meal (14/20 bread). Also the coffee at the end had good flavour.

This was a pleasant enough experience overall, though I think the kitchen is trying too hard to be clever with ingredient combinations when some Italian simplicity is really what is required. The bill for two with some beer was ¥11,025 i.e. around ¥5,500 (£42) per person.

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