- Location: Miracolo, 73 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8TP (nearest tube stations are Chancery Lane and Farringdon)
- Date of Visit: Saturday 4th January
- Time of Table: 1.15pm
- Deal Bought From: Wowcher
- Deal Price: £19 for Two
- Dinner Companion: Twin sister, Jess
Getting More for your Money?
This dinner deal includes:
- Two Starters
- Two Main Courses
- Two Glasses of Wine
- For Two People
What we ate…
- Starter: Wild Boar Dip, served with bread
- Main: Fagiano arrosto con salsa di vino rosso
- Side: Broad beans, parsnip and sweet potato chunks (not included)
- Dessert: Chocolate Cake, served with Pistachio Ice Cream (not included)
- Starter: Bruschetta con formaggio di capra
- Main: Roasted Partridge
- Side: Broad beans, parsnip and sweet potato chunks (not included)
- Dessert: Panna Cotta with Orange Grand Marnier Sauce (not included)
What we drank…
- Bottle of Trebbiano del Rubicone IGT (at a discounted price)
- Two Cappuccinos (not included)
What did we think?
Miracolo is a restaurant that is full of juxtaposition, contrasts and complete opposites, which is probably why it snuggles comfortably at home in London’s Chancery Lane area, amidst our colourful capital’s combination of old and new. Upon entering this roomy restaurant, you are instantly struck by the cool and warm colour theme – pale blue walls create an ocean calm, yet hot splashes of vivid orange and red abstract square paintings slap of modernity. White leather sofas recline elegantly by the entrance, while the square tables are simply dressed in pale grey table cloths, adorned with vibrant orange table runners, bright yellow napkins and the expected cutlery.
Despite this hodgepodge of colours and stab of minimalism, Miracolo is a self-confessed Italian restaurant with a difference. Using the heritage and history of Italian food and culture as the foundation of their menu, which was developed by top chef Ettore Marini, Miracolo uniquely specialises in medieval cooking and ancient recipes. With a passion for authenticity and quality cuisine, this patch of little Italy is all about brining forgotten food back to the table with an abundance of hearty flavours and a focus on times gone by. With a modern vibe of laid back cool, paired with medieval meat dishes, Miracolo is an intriguing interesting mix that I couldn’t wait to sample.
The deal that we had bought entitled us to a two course meal – starters and main courses in this instance – as well as a complimentary glass of wine each. What was immediately obvious to both myself and Jess, was that this was a well-loved family run business. Once we were seated, the manager came over to our table to explain which sections of the menu we were entitled to with the voucher and which sections had a supplement attached. He was incredibly relaxed, and even said that if we wanted to swap our two glasses of wine for a bottle, then he would give us a discount on that instead. We gladly took him up on this offer, and ordered ourselves a rich and tangy Trebbiano, which we got for £11 instead of £14.95. Both the manager and the other waitress who were working both had an endearing personal touch with their service – you could clearly see how much they wanted you to enjoy the food. When the waitress was cracking open the wine for us, she was chatting away, helping us decide on our starters. We felt incredibly welcomed and wanted, which isn’t always the case when you have a voucher, as some restaurants treat you as second class customers. We were instantly at ease, comfortable and completely relaxed as we settled back into the wooden dining chairs with our wine.
For starters, I decided to try the wild boar dip, that was said to be served with focaccia or white pizza bread although what I ended up with was more round slices of bread that had been crisped up in the oven. The wild boar dip was the consistency of a meat paste, so thinner and more bitty then a pate. It was a light red-brown in colour, the meat combined with onion, celery, carrots, red wine and tomato sauce to create the finished dip. Light to eat with a grainy texture, it didn’t taste overly meaty but it was tasty nonetheless.
I was a bit disappointed with my starter as a whole dish however. I was looking forward to the soft, squidgy promise of focaccia that was on the menu, so to be presented with four small round slices of toasted bread was a bit baffling and made the dish seem more like pate and toast than dip and bread. In my opinion, there also wasn’t enough dip. I could only spread a thin layer of the meat paste across each slice if I wanted to eat all of the bread, which I did, and to be honest, since the dip was meant to be the star of the show with this course, I think it would have been better to have more of it. If I had been asked about the bread and provided with more dip, the starter would have been much better but it was by no means unpleasant. I still enjoyed it on the whole. Jess had chosen the goats cheese bruschetta for her starter, swirled with honey, rocket and balsamic vinegar on top of the melted cheese, oozing over the crunchy bread beneath.
For the main course, I opted to try guinea fowl – a game meat that I had never tried before. With an unusual selection of meats including quails, wild boar, venison, goat and rabbit it was really the meat dishes where the medieval influences really became apparent. Of course the menu still housed the traditional pasta combinations of your usual Italian eateries but with such rare meats on the menu, I wasn’t going to miss out on trying something new and a little bit unusual. Jess settled on trying quail, again a meat she had never sampled before. After making our selections, the manager promptly returned to our table, calmly explaining that due to a large party the previous night, they currently had no stock of either of the meats that we had ordered. He recommended that I try pheasant instead of guinea fowl and that Jess try partridge instead of quail. He stated that they would come in the same sauces as our original options but the meat would just be different. After a quick re-perusal of the menu, we decided to trust the expert and go with the alternative choices. He also informed us that the main dishes didn’t come with vegetables so he asked us if we would like him to order a side plate of vegetables for us both as well, which we agreed to. There wasn’t actually a side dish section on the menu, otherwise we would have ordered this for ourselves.
The main course was sensational. After all the initial fuss and bother, when the pheasant was put in front of me, I couldn’t help but be impressed. I was presented with half of the bird, beautifully roasted with the skin still crisp and the meat soft and tender on the bone. I haven’t had much experience of game, but I really enjoyed the flavours which seemed heartier and richer than your bog standard chicken. The meat also had a silkier texture in my opinion. What I also loved was that this luxurious meat was absolutely drenched in sauce. I really adore sauces and dips with my meat so to see my meat swimming in the gravy was fantastic, as this also meant I had enough to dunk my veg in as well. The sauce was a red wine base, so had that gorgeously deep undertone of berries, but it also had a powerful pang of garlic which vibrated throughout the whole dish, along with a popular herb in medieval cooking, rosemary. Although not usually a herb lover, I must confess I really thought the rosemary worked well with this combination of flavours, adding an earthy pep to the smoky garlic and decadent red wine. The menu stated that this dish was from the 1300’s, so it was also great to have that added bit of information about the food that I was eating.
On the plate with the stunning meat and sauce was half a tomato and a soggy attempt at a decorative salad. The plate of side vegetables consisted of about seven broad beans, a few cube chunks of parsnip and a few more of sweet potato. These were nicely oven roasted and kept simple so not to compete with the dazzling main meat. We were also given a bread basket to enjoy with our main course, which seemed to contain similar bread to what I had with my starter, as well as a different kind of bread which had larger slices, was softer and seemed to have pieces of tomato or pepper embedded in it. This was perfect for mopping up any remains of sauce, so needless to say, we had extremely clean plates when the manager came to clear our table, and he was modestly excited when we commented on how much we enjoyed the dishes. Jess’s partridge didn’t actually come in the same way as her original quail would have done, so we aren’t really sure what the sauce was. It seemed to contain some kind of nuts which we thought were walnuts, and her sauce was also a paler shade of brown and creamier so was probably a cream base instead of wine. The attention to detail of the meat was brilliant, and it is evident they have really honed their art when it comes to medieval styled game.
The home grown touch was continued with the dessert selection. The manager patiently explained that they make all of their desserts in-house, and that they vary on a daily basis which is why they don’t have a set dessert menu like most other restaurants. As he reeled off an impressive list from memory, my mouth was watering just by listening to the checklist of cheesecakes, tortes, panna cotta, cake, crème caramel and more. With so many options and feeling a little put on the spot, I went for the chocolate cake with a scoop of pistachio ice cream. Jess decided on the panna cotta, with a Grand Marnier sauce. When the desserts arrived, my eyes widened at the size of the portion. The cake slice was huge and was most definitely going to hit the spot! With a thin, melted chocolate style icing on top, the thick wedge was moist and surprisingly light, so not too heavy or overfilling at all. The pistachio ice cream was also amazing – not a fake or lurid green but instead the shade of the natural nut, with a more intense nut flavour which I thoroughly enjoyed. I love the combination of pistachios and chocolate so this dish was ideal for me. I tried some of Jess’s panna cotta and I have to say it was the best panna cotta I have ever eaten. Instead of the usual slightly watery and wobbly dessert I have been used to, this one was more set and reminded me more of a custard, with a soft vanilla squelch. The Grand Marnier sauce was also delightful with an orange kick to boost the flavour of the sometimes bland dessert. Another really great flavour combination that made a heavenly finish to the food.
For me, the end of the meal wouldn’t be complete without a coffee, so we ordered a cappuccino each, which at £1.50 each was a complete bargain in our books. With a fabulous frothy top it was actually one of the best cappuccinos I have ever had with it’s delicious creamy coffee taste.
Making a second reservation? Yes, I think I would come again, but I would skip having starters and just have a main course and dessert, which were the nicest courses in my opinion. I loved the organic and personal feel of Miracolo. The waiting staff were not practiced professionals, carrying millions of plates at once at the speed of light, but they took their time and carried the plates like you would if you were at home heading for your own kitchen. They constantly asked whether we enjoyed the food, their eager faces turned enthusiastically towards ours, their passion for bringing the medieval Italian classics to cosmopolitan London blatantly evident and endearing. Their service was faultless and they made us feel special, as if it was of the utmost importance to them that we have an amazing experience. This was such a refreshing change since a lot of restaurants can occasionally make you feel as if they have no time for you whatsoever. However, we should remember that we went for lunch and not dinner, therefore the restaurant as a whole was very quiet, with only three of the tables filled including ours, so they probably had more time to pander to us as well.
The atmosphere was lovely – so calm and relaxing that you really could just unwind and enjoy the food. I paid £19 for the original voucher and then we paid an additional £38 at the venue, so we left £20 each which isn’t bad considering we had three courses, a bottle of wine and a coffee each. The starters and desserts were about £5 each with the main courses ranging between £12 and £16 mainly, so to come without a voucher, I think you would need to cut a course to keep costs low, but I think you can afford to cut the starter as I don’t think you’d miss much, although I would like to try the asparagus risotto that also featured in the starter section. With the main courses, a lot of the sauces are very similar or the same, the only difference being the kind of meat served with it, but with such a variety of interesting game and red meats, I don’t feel this is much of a problem.
On the whole, I feel that Miracolo is a complete hidden gem. It is only a five to ten minute walk away from Chancery Lane tube station, in a simple straight line walk down one road, so super easy to get to, even for a hopeless directionless person like myself. With a modern attempted minimalist décor juxtaposed with the regal roasts of medieval Italy, Miracolo really has put a unique spin on Italian food, and one that I would love to sample again.
The Dinner Dates Opinion:
“I really enjoyed my lunch at Miracolo. The environment was really nice, it had a light and airy atmosphere, plus the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. The food was delicious – it was really nice to try some different things, especially with the medieval theme, its so different and the food was so nice. I thoroughly enjoyed it! There were also some classic Italian stuff on the menu if you didn’t want to try anything different, but why wouldn’t you want to try wild boar or partridge? The sauces were also just so flavourful; they were very generous with the bread to go with it too which is something you don’t normally see. I also really liked my dessert, an orange panna cotta that was just the perfect amount of boozy with Gran Marnier! Overall, I would definitely go again!”