Had a business dinner at Il Convivio (143 Ebury St, SW1W 9QN, 020-7730-4099) last night. All of us had a wonderful time and a terrific meal.
Started with a glass of Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano (sorry, missed the vintage) - a lush, mouth-filling white. The amuse bouche was a grilled slice of foccacia topped with herbed polenta and lardo, drizzled with pesto and topped with some tiny basil leaves. Things were looking pretty good.
Two of the gents had the fois gras and raved about it while I had a semolina risotto with spider crab and fennel cream. This was tasty but probably the lowlight of the meal only because everything else was so good. We drank a '99 A-Mano Primativo (Zinfandel to Californians) which was lovely. This was drinking really well despite its youth.
For mains the boys had the lamb in puff pastry (no offers of tastes and clean plates so presumed to be good - it certainly looked terrific - pink, succulent, and smelled divine!). I had the grilled veal cutlet with pumpkin and salsify. Glorious! To accompany this we had a silky '93 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. This definitely did NOT suck!
Unusually for all of us (probably because we were on a roll), we all had puds. Three white espresso ice creams and one cassata with macadamia nuts and caramel (mine). While the cassata was very good and the caramel terrific, I'm not a great candied fruit fan (it was the macadamias and caramel that sucked me in). Fortunately, one of my companions had agreed to swap tastes with me and we both preferred the others choice - so a switch was made and supreme happiness prevailed.
All of us commented on the friendly service and nice atmosphere (spare but actually warm). Breads on offer were terrific (the walnut was exceptional).
The dinner is £23 for 2 courses, £28 for 3 (fairly typical central London dinner) with some supplements, depending on what is ordered. 12.5% is clearly added to the bill (although I imagine you could strike it out if you wanted to delete it). With the Brunello knocking up the price quite a bit, pre-dinner drinks, coffee and service, the tab came to about £270 for 4. Not cheap but well worth it.
The Bucks Belly