Amaranto is the flexible restaurant, bar and lounge in the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. Janet Harmer went to visit
For the customer, Amaranto offers an enormous choice of what and where they can eat in a variety of different locations. As well as the restaurant, which includes a conservatory and a garden terrace in the summer, there are three lounges, a private dining room and bar - all interconnecting and all offering a variety of dining options throughout the day. Together they can accommodate a total of 148 diners (168 during the summer) throughout the various spaces.
Amaranto is the Italian name for the Amaranth flower and its colour hue, which ranges from warm magenta to deep red, is reflected throughout the striking decor, which incorporates a custom-made chrome and glass wine display, black banquettes and accents of zebra print fabrics.
For the chefs and waiting staff, the different elements of Amaranto have created an enormous logistical challenge, but one that is working, according to executive chef Adriano Cavagnini, who joined the Four Seasons London from the Hotel Eden in Rome, where he was executive chef.
"Our aim is to provide flexibility for customers, so over and above the various menus we offer, we will also aim to cook anything that a guest requests," he explains. "The challenge for staff is to know and understand all the dishes on a variety of different menus."
Alongside the main à la carte dinner menu there is a set lunch (£19.50 for two courses or £26 for three) bar, lounge and two afternoon tea menus. The dinner menu - offering seven antipasti dishes, eight pastas and risottos, two soups, nine main courses and eight desserts - reflects Cavagnini's Italian heritage. Although he is from Lake Garda in the north, the whole country is represented, with the likes of aubergine risotto and taleggio fondue (£10/£15.50) from Lombardy; gnocchi filled with basil pesto and ricotta, pan-fried langoustine and a wild mushroom broth (£9.50/£13.50) from Tuscany; and grilled fresh fish, shellfish and vegetable platter marinated in extra virgin olive oil and lemon (£29) from Sicily.
The best-selling dishes so far include the above mentioned risotto and gnocchi, as well as a starter of Atlantic sea bass carpaccio, shaved raw artichoke salad and red salmoriglio dressing (£10.50) and main course of veal fillet with pecorino di pienza on sautéed courgettes and fresh marjoram (£24.50).
A stunning chocolate selection called Six Little Sins (£8.75) from pastry chef Santiago Marafuschi, who was previously at the Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, is proving to be popular among the desserts. It includes chocolate fondant, cocoa crumble, chocolate ice-cream, butter cocoa cream, dark organic bitter chocolate and Gianduia chocolate sauce.
Marafuschi is also responsible for the two afternoon teas served throughout Amaranto - a traditional English one, incorporating sandwiches, raisin and fig scones, and various pastries, or the Italian-inspired La Dolce Vita, which offers tomato, mozzarella and basil bruschetta, bocconcini with Parma ham and robiola, panettone and torta carprese. Both teas cost £32 per person.
Guests eating in the bar or one of the lounges, so far, are more likely to choose dishes from the lighter bar or lounge menus. The most popular choice in the bar is currently the grilled burger with French fries, crispy onions, tomatoes and gherkins (£14.50). But, in typical Amaranto style, this is served according to the customer's wishes, with added Parma ham, Stilton cheese - or anything else - if requested.
Sample dishes from the menu
Braised Mediterranean octopus in arrabbiata sauce with soft polenta concia £8.50
Seared scallops in pancetta alla carbonara; scallop tartar with blood orange and chives; carpaccio of scallops with spicy new potatoes £12.50
Seared wagyu beef, pecorini and olive ravioli, rosemary dressing £20
pasta & risotto
Aubergine risotto and taleggio fondue, Modena extra vecchio balsamic vinegar £10/£15.50
Wholemeal ravioli stuffed with rabbit in vermentino broth, black winter truffle £9/£13.50 Paccheri di gragnano pasta with scorpion fish, broccoli, garlic and chilli £8.50/£12
Ashed monkfish with Jerusalem artichokes, lardo di colonnata and leek £23 Roast loin of lamb with three Mediterranean flavours, fondant potato and pumpkin purée £22.50
Slow-cooked leg of rabbit cacciatore filled with spinach, feta and black olives £19.50
Soft tiramisu in chocolate basket, coffee ice-cream £7.50 Selection of citrus macaroons with mango and orange sorbets and mint marinated mango salad £8 Warm coconut cake, marinated pineapple, spiced crumble with ice-cream and honey £7.50
Hamilton PlaceLondon W1J 7DRTel: 020 7319 520
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