One Pico has been recommended to me by several friends but for some reason I’ve never managed to make it in to eat there. I found myself on the website a few weeks ago and noticed they were doing an excellent Sunday lunch deal of three courses for €29; I decided to ring up to make a reservation completely forgetting that it was the weekend of Mother’s Day and, of course, they were all booked out so I had to settle for the following week.
When we arrived we were shown to our table by the maitre d’ and after being seated we ordered some water and remarkably he downsold me by offering a jug of tap water when I asked for a bottle of still, although maybe he felt guilty at the sparkling water we’d also ordered being €6. The menus we then received were only printouts of A4 paper which was a jarring contrast to the refined dining room with its elegant chairs and modern art hanging on the walls; surprisingly for somewhere just painted various shades of grey the space had very nice and warm feel to it.
To begin I chose the foie gras terrine, pear and vanilla puree and lime reduction served with warm brioche; there was also a suggestion of a riesling auslese to pair which I went with too as I love sweet wines with foie gras. It was an superb terrine with the vanilla in the puree being a particular highlight and as you would expect the wine was a perfect match. One slight problem was that I didn’t taste any trace of the lime reduction, something acidic would have been a nice counterpoint to the richness of the fat but, still, it wasn’t missed much. For her starter, my wife had the red mullet with red pepper, fennel salad and saffron aioli. This was exquisite, the raw fennel and its vinegarette gave a wonderful freshness but didn’t overpower the fish and subtle saffron flavour of the aioli: it definitely the best plate of food we had during the meal and was easily of Michelin star quality.
For my main course I ordered the crispy duck confit which came on a bed of spring cabbage with some hazelnuts and a carrot and star anise puree. There was an intense sauce the hazelnuts were bathed in that I would have liked more of to go with the meat but the puree also fulfilled a similar function given the affinity aniseed and duck have so it wasn’t a big issue. A glass of Chateaux Ollieux Romanis Cuvee Classique 2008 paired nicely too and I would happily have ordered a bottle if I wasn’t the only one drinking. Our other dish was butter roasted chicken accompanied by a croquette of leek and black bacon with a salsify puree; there were also some wild mushrooms that worked really well with the chicken and the intense smokey flavour from the bacon. Both mains were good but I thought they were outshone by the quality of the starters as they were just impeccable – not a bad complaint to have, I suppose.
For dessert we both chose the amalfi lemon tart with blackberry sorbet which was outstanding: the acidity of the two main ingredients could easily have been too much but they both combined excellently here and we can even overlook how unseasonal blackberries are in April given how lovely it all tasted.
Service was as good as you’d expect in a restaurant of this level, very professional and unobtrusive with a nice break between courses so you didn’t feel like you were being rushed as can sometimes happen when there’s a set menu offer. I’ll be interested to try dinner to see if there’s a big difference between that and lunch, I suspect not but I’d still expect it to be a notch above. The total bill including two glasses of wine and a large bottle of sparkling water was just over €85.