The Small, Milan
Via Paganini Niccolo 3, Angolo Piazza Argentina, Milan
On our second night at Milan, we were very excited to find this place in Trip Advisor called The Small, with unique dining rooms, artistic quirkiness (yes, even Anna Wintour was featured!), mismatched cutleries and even a gallery/shop next door! Ms Hot Guns and I love quirky stuff, so it seemed as if this would be a perfect place to dine on our last night in Milan.
The owner (I think) was super friendly and boisterous and there is no question that the service was very good compared to European standards. He patiently got one of the guys to explain the menu to us in detail and also told us up front to see how we go with our primi before ordering secondi which we really appreciated. Even though I am Piggyeatalot the portions available in Italy are simply too big for me!
One thing slightly worries me though was that for a very very small restuarant (well it IS called The Small) its clientele seemed to mainly consist of Australia tourists, I am not kidding- at least 75% of them are Australians! Have we relied on trip advisor too much and have gone for tourist spots instead of a restaurant where locals dine?
We ordered a few entrees to share and a primi each to start. First up, Milanese rice infused with saffron. It felt… how should I say it? A bit naked. True to its description- it’s simply a bowl of risotto infused with saffron. I guess if you look at the positive side, there are no other fluffy stuff to distract the true flavours, but truth be told we thought it’s a bit boring, both looks and flavour-wise. There were just no depth to this dish. Thankfully we shared it between us because we seriously didn’t know how anyone could just finish a big bowl of plain risotto.
Next up, the carpaccio with salad. Presented in a lovely serving plate I thought this dish is pretty good. The meat marinated beforehand and it was flavoursome. The salad of basil leaves were fresh and went well with the carpaccio.
Our primi (and hubby’s secondi) were next and our mouth dropped opened when hubby’s osso bucco came with the same Milanese rice we ordered previously. It would have been great if the waiter has told us that we ordered something similar so we could change the order. That being said the osso bucco was the best dish of the night- very tender and flavoursome although the techniques of making this dish seemed fairly uncomplicated as far as we can tell.
Ms Hot Guns and I excitedly ordered black rice w octopus (riso nero). We were both squid ink fanatics and was really dying to try some squid ink risotto/ pasta on our Italy trip so imagine our disappointment when the dish was served and the black rice was literally that- black rice. Aside from our initial disappointment ot the black rice, I found the octopus was not as fresh as it could be. It was an okay dish overall but nothing truly outstanding.
We decided to see what dessert they have on offer and the waiter told us something about chocolate and tomato tart. We thought we heard wrong… TOMATO? In a DESSERT? Oh well we just have to wait and see. We shared this slice of tart which tasted very much like a slightly sour raspberry and chocolate tart. This time we found the owner to clarify: it turned out the dessert was a chocolate and tomato jam tart with raspberry. It sounded unique but really the raspberry flavour overshadowed the tomato flavour even though we could still taste a slight sourness of tomatoes. I am not very fond of the pastry itself either.
Our final disappointment was when the bill came. The water was charge €3 per person which we found was very steep considering normal charge of bottled water was €3 and we didn’t drink 4 bottles! We found the water charges in Italy very confusing as some restaurant charges a per person rate (like yum cha!) but some charge per bottle and it wasn’t always stated clearly, however, of all the restaurants we went to in the two weeks we were in Italy, The Small has the steepest price, even compare to Michelin starred restaurant.
I guess in hindsight because it looked so much like a tourist spot and the service was so good that we thought everything would be explained to us quite clearly and that we understand each other. The quirky and out there decor also made me expect more quirky and experiemental dishes to be served. That in turn made us even more disappointed when things don’t turn out the opposite. With the exception of the dessert which had an interesting twist (I never had tomato in my dessert before!) we found the whole dining experience at The Small just average. 6/10
Check out the rest of my awesome European Adventures here!