MUDEC, the museum of culture in the heart of Milan’s design district is an unusual location to have a fine dining restaurant. This is not just any fine dining either, it is the country’s newest, and one of the seven existing Michelin 3-star restaurants. Italy is the world’s second most starred location in the world, so of course I had to see if it was worth all the raving reviews.
By the time they open for dinner service at 7:30pm the museum is already closed so the exhibition area is completely dark. I walked into the main area. There was a cleaner mopping the floor and a security guard at the reception desk, who I walked past to follow a sign directing me to the lift. The doors opened on the 3rd floor- here a spacious reception area awaited me. The dining room had its walls painted with dark colours, contrasting with the white tablecloth and black leather chairs, and I felt that it all had a very sterilised feel.
Chef Enrico Bartolini had trained in Paris and London before returning home to work under Michelin 3-star chef Massimiliano Alajmo. While dining here, you are offered two menus: the ‘Be Contemporary’ version and the ‘Be Classic’, each containing a set of different dishes with varied focal points. The menu that caught my eye was “Top Ten” at a whopping €250! – Well, Milan certainly isn’t a cheap place. As the name implies, these are the ten signature dishes of the restaurant, ideal for first time diners like me. The ingredients are dominated by Italian origins : the eel are sourced from the Po river, the beef of Podolica from southern Italy, etc. At this price point, the menu of course featured some luxury ingredients – Langoustine from Liguria, Osetra caviar from Calvisius (farmed via sturgeons from Ticino Park), and oysters also from the Po river.
From the presentation of every dish, it was obvious that attention-to-detail was taken very seriously. The Marchesi’s signature saffron risotto was served in a miniature form with a tiny, perfect, round disk of saffron jelly topped with a mini golden square, the oyster topped with caviar and surrounded with colourful edible flowers. Even the pasta was so stunningly plated that it looked like a work of art. The best dish of the night was by far the langoustine which was fresh and creamy with a burst of acidity from finger limes further brightening up the dish. However, there were a few dishes that didn’t work for me at all… the elegant sea flavour of the oyster seemed to be wasted when it got stuffed with the overpowering flavour of anchovies, and the risotto with gorgonzola finished with fruity beetroot juice was just too crazy a combination for me; I felt it lacked cohesiveness in flavours. Finally for the main course was Podolica beef rump from a Southern region of Italy (as opposed to Fassona, a highly prized breed from Northern Italy), which was super tender but surprisingly muted in flavour.
Overall, an elaborate menu but not a single course has “wowed” me. The whole experience felt almost too “corporate”. The formal atmosphere, the rigorous and uptight service, it’s certainly a great place for a business dinner.