Last year I had the opportunity to finally book a table at Osteria Francescana, said to be the top Italian Restaurant in the World as it is currently sitting on top of the No.3 spot on Pellegrino’s Top 50 Restaurants list. Although I obviously haven’t had the chance to dine at every single classy Italian restaurant in the world to validate this claim - I guess you can refer to my previous posts of other visits at the current No.1 Noma, or No.2 El Celler de Can Roca as a comparison. The Ledbury has also shot up to the No. 10 spot recently. And let’s not forget The Fat Duck, which actually held the No.1 spot for 1 year before the sister restaurant Dinner by Heston became climbing up the ladder instead as fine dining as a food trend took a slight dip. Having dined at the Top 3 restaurants globally by coincidence, I have to say I am impatient or even annoyed - I will happily return to many restaurants in Paris, Spain or even Amsterdam, which aren’t even rated in the Top 100 but were actually more convincing meals. This world still works on generating a noise and how you market them !
The Menu is divided into 3 offerings -
One is totally traditional and surprisingly very rustic in recipes.
The second Classics is what they recommend for you to taste.
The third offering is suppose to be the most adventurous and depends on the kitchen’s daily mood.
I checked the whole Menu and surprisingly, the kitchen was happy to settle with a combination between the Classics and Sensations menu for me. Best of all worlds!
A local 2011 Emilia-Romagna regional Sorriso di Cielo, made from Malvasia -
Those familiar with Malvasia wines will know that this grape is sometimes fluctuating between being a white and a red wine. It is really unique in this aspect and it is one of my favourite wines, since I have always believed that Red and White wines aren’t polar opposites. A Malvasia is the perfect example to counter this statement.
Adriatic Eel from nearby seas, Polenta, Campanie apple jelly, burnt Saba Onion, Charcoal salt -
This sounded so great because they sourced the local Italian eel, which is a concept also popular in France, Spain and Belgium. The overall pairing of flavours was nice indeed, although the sous-vided eel was kinda hardish, a recurrent theme for today. ~ 6.9/10
Oyster - Raw Lamb tartare with Fine de Claire oyster and Olive Oil Emulsion, Green apple and Herbs Granita -
This was a novel concept. It tasted great but I am not really sure why raw lamb is presented inside an oyster shell? Even if this tasted good in the end. ~ 7/10
2010 Nero d’avola from Sicily -
Naturally as always, I like to experiment with what the sommelier offers me after a short discussion with my intentions, as I always say Sommeliers are sometimes just like psychics and can read minds. I was surprised to get this Sicilian grape as a pairing for my next courses, since locally in the region there are many other wine choices. I suspect they were trying to widen up the choices in order to be truly representational of the whole of Italy?
Green Beans, Pea Ice, Raw Mushrooms, Olive oil, Parmesan curd Cheese sauce,
served warm with Sichuan pepper -
This was definitely my favourite dish. The Parmesan cheese is local from the region and the dish’s inspiration said to be based on the cow’s milk and grass diet! This concept definitely worked and the taste was also convincing, one of the signatures here at Osteria Francescana. ~ 10/10
Parmesan 5 Textures -
24 months sauce, warm 30 months souffle, cold 36 months foam, 40 months crispy Parmesan, 50 months Air foam. I personally think this was so confusing in concept, but it was trying hard to be different and with a central core theme. At least ultimately I really did tasted the 5 different texture of Parmesan cheese from local. Hard to rate really. ~ 7/10
Compressed Beans and Pasta, Veal crème royale with Foie Gras, Radicchio salad, Crispy pancetta ham, Maltagliati crispy Parmesan pasta, Beans paste and Rosemary foam -
I liked how this was so try hard to be impressive. The Maltagliati pasta made with Parmesan was fun enough, but this cheese was already used in 3 of the above dishes consecutively. Taste alone it was really appreciated, but I just ate 5 textures of the same cheese above, and another dish with the same. Yawn… ~ 8/10
Guinea Fowl not roasted -
Roast Pigeon. With Air spray made with Guinea Fowl and bones. Meat sous vided with Truffled cheese sauce. Foie gras. Crispier meat came with Balsamic. Zucchini flower sauce. I appreciate this but with so many concepts on 1 plate again. I had to rely on my notes to know what was actually happening. I think this dish was a bit aggressive but in fact, each individual component wasn’t that standing out. ~ 7/10
White chocolate with Garlic and Rosemary, Chocolate with Foie Gras, Crispy Fowl Skin Biscuit, Bread and Salted Butter Ice Cream -
This recipe is so quirky. Even by my standards as an explorer. I actually like it but really don’t know how to judge.
Foie Gras Ice Cream Crunch with Traditional Balsamic vinegar from Modena, with Caramelized Almonds -
Again a fussy dish. The Balsamic acidity was really apparent here. I would rather eat Gay Time to be honest.. ~ 7/10
11 Thousand Layer Leaves - with Sugarized Herb leaves, Porcini and Truffles, Orange puree, Hazelnuts, Jerusalem Artichokes, Strawberries and Cherries -
I distinctly remember the fried herb leaves and also the crispy Jerusalem artichokes chips. This was a nice and exploratory dessert, but what is with the porcini and truffles too? I think I liked this concept but just.. ~ 8/10
Oops I broke the Lemon Tart -
With Lemongrass ice cream, lemon zabaglione, capers, mustard apple, lemon confit, sansho oil chili pepper. Actually I can totally call this recipe so boring, but the taste was actually great and this was again one of the highlights for me! I personally found that Osteria Francescana is so trying-hard to be different, almost to the point customers are getting lost along the way. The recipes are all about anti-this and anti-that, which I am not really convinced about. But ultimately I only care about the taste as the end result… No. 3 in the world? Wished they stopped cooking the fishes sous vide or at least lower the temperatures first.
Price: Euro 180
Food: ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕♕
Address: Via Stella, 22, 41121 Modena, Italy
Ph: +39 059 210118