We’ve been here before.
The restaurant that used to live here was called Bibiana, and it served very good Italian food. It was part of Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, the same organization that owns Rasika and Rasika West. Even though Bibiana was still successful 10 years after opening, Bajaj decided that it was time for a change.
He closed Bibiana last Fall and, in the space of a few weeks, renovated the site and brought in a new chef with a new menu. The result is Modena, and it’s sensational!
The bread basket was full of surprises. It was–well, it was “curated”, although nobody used that overly-familiar word. Four or five slices of bread, each of them different from the others, each a minor revelation.
I’m a creature of habit. If I’m dining in a French restaurant, I’ll usually have French Onion Soup as a starter, even in the warmest weather. If the place is Italian, and if Polpette is on the menu, I look no further.
The base here was polenta, with dandelion greens. I liked the beef, pork, and veal combination in the polpette, which was fortunate because the main I’d ordered also featured it.
The Tagliatelle Bolognese was yet another marvel. I’d always liked Bibiana, but Modena has taken modern Italian cooking to an entirely new level.
When I was placing my order, the server warned me: “Don’t tell me you’re ordering anything other than the Budino for dessert.” She told me that the bittersweet chocolate in the budino was “not children’s chocolate, it’s chocolate for adults.”
Dessert was served in a small glass. The chocolate was decorated with Chantilly cream and fresh passion fruit. And my first taste made it official: I’d dined very well since the beginning of 2020, but lunch at Modena was the finest meal I’d had all month.
But wait, there’s more.
First of all, have another look at the budino. Beautiful, isn’t it?
She was a Bruegel admirer, and she’d lived in Bruegel’s Brussels for several years. Most of the customers in her section had departed by then, so we had time to chat. I showed her some of the blog postings from my 2018 adventures in Belgium, and she reminisced about the familiar sites. We talked about chocolate and waffles.
I was getting ready to leave when she came back to the table.
She brought me a second serving of that fabulous dessert.
Made my day, and then some.
* Here’s a website that lets you enlarge all or parts of “Children’s Games” so that you can zoom in on the action. According to Wikipedia, 80 games are depicted in the painting, but the word “games” is very loosely defined.