By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
As Aristotle wrote, Truffles were “a fruit sacred to Aphrodite”. The luxurious Fungi may have become the Foodie equivalent to Bread and Butter in recent years, but Truffles have a deep Historic lineage and have always been a highly prized ingredient. Many fine restaurant kitchens will use the odd shaving here and there, yet Tartufi & Friends have always been dedicated to celebrating the Truffle, used munificently in almost every one of their dishes. Having originally opened in Milan, before expanding to a second restaurant in Rome, Tartufi & Friends have very recently opened their first London restaurant, located in the basement of Harrods.
Upon first hearing about the opening we could’ve sworn we’d seen it all before. High-end department store opens new restaurant, claims to use only the best ingredients, takes a reasonable price and multiplies at least three-fold, serves all of its dishes upon a slate, and lacks originality or any real culinary skills. Fortunately, we couldn’t have been more wrong, and our recent trip to Tartufi & Friends managed to exceed all expectations, leaving us very satisfied, indeed. Upon the first glance at the menu, the prices do seem exploitative, yet given the sheer amount of luxurious ingredients present within each dish, as well as ample portion sizes, it really is a case of receiving exactly what you pay for (for the most part, anyway).
What’s perhaps most impressive is the versatility that’s celebrated by Tartufi & Friends. Aside from your typical Truffle Oil (which is available to buy from the restaurant, as well as a whole range of other products), and shavings used as a potent and sometimes pretentious seasoning, there’s plenty of other ways that the fungus makes its way into the menu. First off, there’s a range of signature Truffle-infused cocktails such as a Truffle Martini (Vodka, Coffee, Cacao Liquor, Truffle Honey, and slices of Truffle) and Tartufi & Friends Margarita (Tequila, Lime, and White Truffle Salt) each priced at £20. As for the food, the Appetizer portions are plentiful, enough to share in fact, with two individual fluffy-based Pizzas (£18) making up one portion, topped with Mozzarella, rich Pomodoro sauce, Basil and (you guessed it) shaved Truffles. On to the menu’s “First Courses”, the Gnocchi is tasty, served in a Basil sauce and topped with fresh Truffles, yet again, but the “Signature” Tagliolini is absolutely outstanding. Cheesy Pepper and Truffle sauce coats the freshly made Pasta, easily vast enough to work as a main course for one.
Following the Appetizer and First Course, the mains do seem remarkably unnecessary. My companion’s Veal Milanese served with warm Potato crisps was enjoyable, as was my “Rossini” Beef Fillet, served with Foie Gras and fresh Truffle, atop a slice of lightly toasted Bread. Although cooked Medium-Rare as ordered, due to the thickness of the Steak, the meat did tend to lose it’s warm very quickly, most probably due to the lengthy resting process to prevent the Steak from paddling in a pool of blood and cooking juices: a double-edged sword to say the least.
As for the dessert, with little room left, the Truffle-y dessert menu seems so intriguing that we couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge even further. We both opted for the Vanilla Ice Cream with Pine Nuts and dried Figs in Truffle Honey. Impressive, but a little steep at £10.
It’s obvious that Tartufi & Friends is going to become a hit with London’s Foodie Crowd, the food is great, as is the service, and although a little pricier than most of the City’s restaurants of this caliber, the food really does deliver. Beat the imminent masses and book a table as soon as possible.
Tartufi & Friends can be found at Harrods, Lower Ground Floor, 87-135, Brompton Road, London, SW1X 7XL.