San Lorenzo’s

We were walking down George’s Street recently and noticed the vegetarian restaurant Juice had been replaced by a place called San Lorenzo’s. The menu on display in the window read very well and I decided to do a bit of research when I got home to see if it was worth a visit. It turns out it’s a new venture from Temple Gardner, former head chef at Town Bar & Grill which is somewhere I’d always been a fan of so we made a reservation for Sunday at 1.30pm.

We arrived slightly early and, surprisingly for a restaurant only open six weeks, found all the tables bar two were occupied (although not necessarily to capacity). The space itself is very starkly decorated, with bare wooden walls and a very interesting feature in the toilets where you can look down into the kitchen through a huge glass window as you wash your hands. The menu for lunch is good value and comprises two courses for € 19.50 or three for €24.50 with plenty of choice on offer.

To begin, I went for the Tuscan bean soup and it was solid if unspectacular, the best part being a hearty hunk of bread at the bottom of the bowl that had been saturated by broth. My wife ordered the porchetta with tuna mayo and capers (a porcine riff on vitello tonnato) which was fantastic: it might seem like an unusual combination of ingredients but they worked so well together and it was one of the best starters I’ve tasted in the past twelve months.

For mains, I chose rabbit and ziti pasta with orange gremolata and again it was outstanding, the sauce wonderfully rich (if a tad salty) and the orange giving an extra dimension to the whole dish. My wife’s duck cacciatore was also excellent, a mixture of medium rare breast meat and then flaked confit leg in amongst the tomatoes, beans and pancetta.

We hadn’t planned on getting dessert but the waiter recommended the apricot bread and butter pudding so I decided to try it and I wasn’t disappointed, it was just wonderfully made and enhanced by a generous helping of custard. A lemon tart with raspberry sorbet was good too but not on the same level as the pudding.

For wine, I had a brilliant dry Tokaji from Hungary (€7.50), a region more renowned for the top sweet wines it produces and then a lovely light and fruity Kalterersee Auslese from the very north of Italy in Alto Adige that accompanied my rabbit perfectly. To match the duck, my wife ordered a Corbieres (€8.00) which was also very nice. To finish, I had a Jurançon: superb on its own but unfortunately not sweet enough to handle the pudding; a very light in alcohol (5%) Asti was far more successful with the tart and really accentuated the citrus notes.

Service was tremendous, before we’d even sat down the waiter was moving the tables around so we could fit our buggy in and all the recommendations were spot on; unprompted the maître d’ even gave us his mobile number for when we’re booking again and managed to sort us a table for this Saturday even though the restaurant was fully booked because of the Ireland match. The total bill, not including tip, was €83.

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