When I first started reviewing food, I felt like an amateur – and I was for sure. I love food and I know a thing or two about good service and presentation through pure common sense and mere taste. But there’s more to it than that. I told myself that if I was going to do this properly I need to learn more about it not leave it to practice or trial and error.
In September, I enrolled in a culinary diploma that was way over my head and that taught me a lot more than I needed. But that’s totally fine as I believe in a life of continuous learning and there’s no such thing as too much knowledge. I still have a few months to go but now I can tell the difference between a restaurant that has an eye for detail and one that only has luck going for it.
I was having breakfast in City Square in Rehab one day when I noticed a fancy looking place at the far corner. Up in the third floor, with a chic logo and a seemingly authentic Italian name, it stood out from the other restaurants and cafes. I made a mental note of visiting it soon, and here I am.
Il Lambro sits in a great spot with a bird’s eye view of the whole Square. The seating and whole atmosphere – interior and music – is chic, cozy and screams classy European. The service was really good, and the staff polite and keen. I loved the menu, it reminded me of Cucina and La Trattoria, where you feel you’ve been teleported to Italy. But with every plate served I was slowly sighing and shaking my head. #disappointment
As usual we ordered a wide variety to try out as much as we can. So let me put them down one by one.
Soup; Crema di Zucca (pumpkin): I was so excited about the idea of pumpkin that I ordered two plates with pumpkin in them. The first was the soup and let me tell you that the only thing it had in common with the vegetable was its color; and even that was darker than it should be. I guess that was because of the immense amount of spices in the soup! I swear I thought I was eating at an Indian restaurant! It was so spicy I couldn’t taste the pumpkin or enjoy it that much.
Appetizer; Celta di Il Lambro Small: We ordered an assortment platter with spring rolls, fried mozzarella, bruschetta and eggplant with melted cheese. If it wasn’t for the stupid parsley they sprinkled around the plate, I would have said that was the best dish in the whole meal. But I really wanted to take the plate inside and tell the chef that only Kebab restaurants use parsley as garnish in that way!
Main Dish; Pollo alla Griglia con Limone e Menta (Grilled chicken marinated with lemon, mint and herbs): To make a long story short, the seasoning was OK, the chicken was overcooked and the side pasta too plain.
Risotto; Risotto di Il Lambro (with chicken, peas, and pumpkin): Again the food was too full of spices – especially black pepper which really ruins things. This time I had to return it because I just couldn’t! The waiter was the one who had suggested that when I told him about the spicy soup, so he quickly took it back and brought me a new one. It was fine but I had lost my appetite by then.
Pizza cone; Frutti di Mare: Don’t even ask me why we ordered that, we were in an experimenting mood. Frankly I don’t think this item goes with how fancy the place was. It could be served in a booth or a food truck or something, but it shouldn’t be on the menu of such a place, with the way it’s served and how people have to eat it given its shape. It wasn’t very convenient despite its good taste.
Dessert; Panna Cotta di Vaniglia: Apparently this is a traditional Italian dessert minus the sauces, but boy was this the worst ending to a mediocre meal. It is a pudding-like thing to which they added extremely artificial syrups and some apple slices. I only took a few bites for need of something cold but I wasn’t happy at all. I’m sure the original thing tastes better than this but with all the sauces, the result was just…No!
My pastry chef always says that even if you give the guest so-so food, you have one chance to make it up to him, and that is dessert. Maybe if that dessert was better this review would have been slightly different.
My point here is; it’s obvious that the owners of this place have put so much money and effort in the concept, menu, location, interior, everything. But when it came to the chef, they weren’t as lucky or as keen. It makes me sad to see such good plates in writing that don’t taste as good when they’re made. I suggest the chef either gets proper training or gets sacked. This restaurant can do so much better.