Happy Chinese New Year everyone! I'm in Hong Kong enjoying some awesome Chinese eats this week. I've still got tons of posts left from Europe though - I'll just keep it moving along...
This next meal is from Ristorante Cibreo in Florence. Cibreo is a fairly well-known restaurant family containing both a proper ristorante and a more casual trattoria. My dad had good experiences on his previous trip at the ristorante, and we thought it would be a good place for a slightly fancier lunch.
Cibreo has a simple and understated dining room, with white-clothed tables and a quiet vibe. It's pretty much the opposite of the vibrant Il Latini. Similar to Il Latini, Cibreo doesn't have any printed a la carte menus - instead, one of the friendly waiters will stop by to discuss the various menu offerings of the day. The place isn't cheap, and a 3 course lunch (along with some extras) costs about €60-70 per head. As usual, we got a variety of things on the menu and shared a little bit.
We started off with this semi-amuse. The egg was smooth and delicate, with some nice savoriness to it. The crostini was rich and hearty by comparison.
Next came another batch of various appetizers, including some serrano ham, a tomato "custard," pickles, sun-dried tomato crostini, and a stew-like preparation of tripe. The tomato custard was particularly interesting, with a silky tofu-like texture but sweet/tangy tomato flavor. The tripe was also delicious.
I opted for this simple porcini mushroom soup, a slightly creamy exposition of porcini flavor. Very nice.
My main was a Florentine version of brandade. It was less salty than most versions I've had, with a nice crust on top. Potatoes were thinly-sliced rather than puree. Simple and hearty.
My brandade came with a noteworthy side of onions that were beautifully caramelized and intensely flavorful. A perfect foil for the starchy brandade.
Geoff went with a simple preparation of veal meatballs. This rendition was as good as any I've ever tasted - the meatballs were smooth and evenly ground, and had a very refined feel to them.
We got a variety of desserts, all very simple and quite elegant. The caramel panna cotta was not unlike the crema catalan we'd soon be eating in Spain. The chocolate tart was a little too heavy for my taste.
Overall, I loved the meal at Cibreo. It's a big change of pace from the typical Florentine trattoria - it makes simple food but in a very refined, elegant way. Ingredients are clearly top-notch. If you are looking for some place nice to rest in between savage bisteccas, the ristorante here is a solid bet. Looking forward to trying to the trattoria next time.