A beautiful room of about a dozen tables in the elegant I Portici Hotel in Bologna. The tables are nicely appointed and have good spacing between them. They have live music, for which they assess diners 10 euros per person, of a harp and piano. Only the harp was playing the evening we were there which was enough as it is amplified and would have been too loud with both instruments. The dining room is open, through some arches into the hotel’s dining room and bar, presumably so those patrons can also enjoy the music but it would have added to the noise level had there been many people in those areas. There is a balcony set with tables on 2 sides but I asked the waiter and no one is ever seated there, they are just for show.
The chef made several appearances in the back of the dining room to talk with one table but visited no others. He missed meeting Frankie!!!! They offer 3 tasting menus as well as a la carte. We chose the tasting based on meats so we could have a whole meal of red wine food. All tables get a large bread selection of flavored breads but I found by the time the waiter had gone through all the varieties I had forgotten which was which. The varieties included sesame, lemon, mortadella, wheat flavorings but all were pretty cottony. The breadsticks and sesame flavors were the best for me.
Our meal started with appetizers including a one bite, liquid center crab explosion. It didn’t explode for me but fell flat. The toasted bread was a nice crunch to combine with mackerel. It was a nice blend and balance. The pistachio macaroon suffered from being stuffed too early and had lost all crispness of a macaroon but the mortadella filling was interesting. The foie gras roll was delicious and the ricotta and tomato was quite good. Separately plated was the foie gras cream and bitter foam. It was truly important to mix in the foam to make it work and then it was good.
Next was quail that was very moist but the rhubarb was understated. It looked really good and was better than average but should have been killer.
The rabbit pasta was served with onion soup on top and was terrific. It had a smokey taste and was extremely savory with a great aftertaste. The bit of green have in a bit of crunch. Winner!
The veal was served with an eggplant stuffed with goo, fried eggplant with parmesan cream, tomato and basil dots. Part of the meat were dry but overall it was a fun course.
The pre dessert was apple with crumbles and was full of apple flavor. It was a good palate cleanser.
The ice cream was nice but mild and the texture was more foamy than creamy. It also was served while I was away from the table, which I thought was poor form.
The assorted pastries included a chocolate and hazelnut square that was too gummy and sweet; a Krapfen without filling but still good; an apple-hazelnut thing that was really ugly but quite good; a beignet with patisserie cream but needed more cream; mango jelly; and a blackberry tart with currants on top that could have used more butter in the pastry but the currant was a nice touch; and a cone of cotton candy which was strange but I’m a sucker for cotton candy!