Located within the Hotel de Russie – next to the Piazza del Polpo and just a short walk from the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti, Rome’s premier shopping street - Le Jardin de Russie is a bit of an oasis; the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the Italian capital. When the weather is good, as it was on this day, alfresco dining is available in the hotel’s ‘secret garden’, so called because one wouldn’t expect to find a place as serene and tranquil as this right in the middle of the city. The staff there call it “a little piece of paradise” – I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it was beautiful, and provided a very pleasant setting for our lunch.
The consultant chef for the Rocco Forte group that runs the Hotel de Russie is double-Michelin-starred Fulvio Pierangeli, and it was he who put together the menu at Le Jardin so, on paper at least, we were in good hands. I started with a first course of Ravioli with Cheese and Black Pepper. A simple dish this might have been, but it was excellent. The pasta was superb – so light, delicate, and beautifully textured you could literally feel and taste the care and skill that had gone into making it with every mouthful – it was by far the best pasta I had on this trip, and possibly the best pasta I’ve ever had. The rest of the flavours were also very well balanced, making this an outstanding, exceptional plate of food.
My main course of Roast Suckling Pig from Cinta Sense (Tuscany) would have had to go a long way to better the ravioli. It didn’t. The pork slices were a bit dry and underseasoned, but the tender cutlet was better and the extra virgin olive oil mashed potatoes was lovely - it wasn’t bad at all, but did feel a bit like a let down after the sensational pasta course.
For dessert, I had to order the Tiramisu "De Russie” even if the price of €18 felt extortionate in the extreme. In fact that was what convinced me to try it – at that price, there must be something really special about it, I thought. It was nicely presented, with the “De Russie” spin coming from the use of (a fine) ice-cream to impart the coffee flavour rather than soaking the cake in coffee. It wasn’t a complete success – the cake itself was left a little dry and also insufficiently creamy for my liking, and the combination with the ice-cream didn’t really work that well – I would prefer a traditional preparation any day.
In a nutshell…
Prices are high but the setting is brilliant, service friendly and good humoured, and the food, especially the pasta, of a high quality.
Le Jardin de Russie
Hotel de Russie, Via del Babuino, 9 – 00187, Roma
+39 06 328881
Average price: €80-€100