Beautifully designed with both a touch of elegance and modernistic virtues, Alba 1836 will charm you from the moment you reach its entrance until you step all the way inside.
Alba means sunrise in Italian, and the sun is shining absolutely brightly on this Italian themed establishment. It helps that the owner is a true blue Italian with an utter passion for wines.
The joint is decorated in soothing beige tones and classic white linen, yet it feels spacious in comparison with most other Italian places. There is a full bar with all the alcoholic poisons that you can hope to muster, and then some.
The kitchen can be peered through pseudo window shutters that give it such a homely grace, but look a bit closer and you can see it is a beautiful kitchen with an army of dedicated cooks led by the able Chef Lucas Piras, who hails from Sardinia.
We started the evening off with the most intricate and visually arresting Tuna Carpaccio that I have ever seen. Beautifully sliced to a thin and muscular bite, it is punctuated with some choice balsamic vinegar to add a tinge of sharpness to the occasion.
The sour cream gives it a creamy luxury while elsewhere, the briny sea urchin and aromatically smoked caviar gives the protein some ocean depth. Colourful, flavourful and a myriad of textures makes this not only a hearty way to begin the meal, but an absolutely feast of flavours for one's palate.
|Spinach Tortelli with Sage Butter|
Their housemade pastas are undeniable. The wonderfully thin pasta sheets that make up this tortelli dish takes it right to the very edge of fragility. Instead of mozzarella, parmesan is used to give it a more savoury punch to the spinach filling, and oh my, does that work in spades and spades of natural umami goodness!
Drizzled with some fresh almonds to give it some crunch and bitter balance, the sage butter is also perfectly judged. Not too nutty, and neither is it greasy, the combination of flavours and rustic freshness makes this one of the most comforting dishes that I have had all year.
|Roasted Lamb Loin in Pecorino Cheese Crust|
Normally, it is at the main course where most Italians fail me. I am happy to report that this is not the case here, and it is almost a first for me. The meat dish looks simple and deceptive at first glance, but that whiff of mesmerising pecorino cheese crust should have told me otherwise.
The lamb loin is devoid of any gamey odour, but what is infinitely more important is the perfectly cooked doneness of the protein. A perfect and wondrous pink interior that retains a bundle of moistness and a meltingly soft bite ensures that this is the best lamb that I have had.
As for that intoxicating aroma of the cheese crust, it makes perfect sense to pair it with the loin. Golden brown deliciousness has never been better, and I doubt it can ever be. Flanked by some necessary onion pearls and purple mash with the greenery of asparagus, it is the lamb jus that binds everything together onto an incredible plate of food. Ravishing does not even begin to describe this level of tastiness.
|Dark Chocolate Miilefeuille|
Perhaps then, the dessert lacked a bit of shine when compared to the highs of the savouries. On its own, it is a very decent and delectable rendition and the marscapone and fresh raspberries are a great way to finish the meal on a high.
Then again, the level of cooking exhibited on the first three courses does take the diner on such a gastronomic high that it is almost unfair to place a sweet after them. Nevertheless, the millefeuille will ground you back to earth with a soothing and sweet finish to the night's menu.
For all the gorgeous settings and impeccable service that is rendered here, one thing cannot be ignored. The freshness of the produce, coupled with the precision of the Italian culinary on display, Alba 1836 certainly makes this one of the meals of the year so far.
In fact, it will take a lot to top this for the rest of the year.
Alba 1836 Wine Bar and Restaurant
28 Duxton Hill