The MET Restaurant, Venice

There’s a certain sense of style and panache in arriving by boat for your dinner, even if that is the only mode of transport available. For us terra firmers, a few days spent on boats is magical. Add to that  a serendipitous city where there are no roads, no cars and there’ s only one place that comes to mind: Venice.

The Metropole hotel is located near the piazza San Marco and houses the only 2 star Michelin restaurant in Venice (and one of two Michelin restaurants).  The first thing that strikes you about the dining room is its masculinity.  It  reminds one of gentlemans clubs, smoking rooms and the like, handsomely decked out in browns, tans and gold.

What I did like, was the water menu they present you with. A list of about 9 or 10 mineral waters each with their mineral compositions and pH levels. For most of us, water’s just water – a menu selection usually coming across as pretentious. However, mineral water does play a role – a more alkaline mineral water is especially good for meals high in animal proteins as the alkalinity in the water helps balance the acidity of the meat. Also, different waters have different pH and different level of sodium – all of which can help to balancing your meal.

Sadly, this was just about the only good part of the meal. The second being the amuse bouche of tomato and basil consumme which was as delicious as the best tomato soups of my childhood.

Our appetizer was a rather large portion consisting of polenta with bean puree, ‘Rossini’ cocktail, fried courgette flower stuffed with white fish. The polenta was edible, the strawberry cocktail had the feel of thick saliva (too much xanthan gum/lecithin) and the courgette flower had no flavour.

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Fried Turbot, coconut
Anchovy, Raspberry, Liquorice

My starter of fried turbot, tomato, mushroom, coconut and lemongrass  was a one dimensional effort at flavour with almost no seasoning. I could understand that the chef wanted to keep it light, but this was bordering on flavourless.

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My mums anchovy, red onion, raspberry and liquorice fared a lot better luckily, even though it was a little hard to look at!

Pigeon, chocolate
Tasting of Suckling Pig
Drowned Beef

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Our main courses looked beautiful. My pigeon with smoked eel, chocolate shavings, lychee and toast was mediocre, with the smoked eel being the tastiest bit (even if it was barely warm), with the brown shavings that were supposed to be chocolate just tasting crisp and, ,erm, brown – lychee was just a mention on the menu rather than even a hint on the plate.

Mum’s tasting of the best suckling pig was enormous and very categorically plated. Some parts of it got her approval, but about half got left as it had no flavour.

Dad’s beef cheek drowned in red wine with vegetables was a good braise technically, with a few baby vegetables  and lots of flavourless, but colourful vegetables mousses (there were a lot of them on all our plates). As my dad said, he didn’t know half of what he was eating! Pretty, but powerless food.

The pre-dessert was good. Yes good. Mascarpone, passion fruit jelly.

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And knowing fully well it would be a disastrous mistake, I still had to order Rolling stone of potato, hazelnut and beetroot for dessert. How can you not order something that reads like that? And yes, it looked like it read. But WRONG! Wrong in every way. Thick chewy, elastic potato dumplings barely filled with a ‘is-this-really-hazelnut’ flavoured custard, rolled in cocoa nibs, served with a microscopic half-bite sized rosemary ice cream (it wasn’t even enough for one bite of the vile ‘stones’) and not a beetroot flavour in sight, unless you count red crisps and red paint-puree on the plate as beetroot.

Petit fours were more quantity than quality, but by this point neither of us were interested – even the coffee menus were all different for each of us: I had the latest one, mum had one without prices, dad had out dated one! The only truly amazing part of the meal was all the gorgeous crockery they had!.

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Oh and the final straw was the coffee/tea: For one, they give you sugar that’s in packets (the type you get in train stations, cafes etc) and they don’t keep any sugar on the table. Once you’ve taken sugar for one cup, they take it away, so you have to ask for it again if you wanted to top up your cup of tea, which we had to do. And how can you have such beautiful crockery/cutlery and tea pots, then go and give your guests packet sugar? Classy, they are not!

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The menus, though, were a constant source of entertainment as someone had blatantly done a very literal translation without giving it any sort of culinary make-over in the new language!

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2 Michelin? Come on. The inspectors must have been drunk on the charm of the city to hand out 2 stars like that. I guess the redeeming factor was the service, and ordering a boat to take you back to your hotel, speeding away under the Venetian moon.

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Overall Experience:6
Recommend you to go? 3
Food: 3
Wine:5

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