GONDOLA – Str Nicolae Caramfil nr 2c

Newsroom 29/10/2007 | 16:24

But they are making too many frustrating mistakes, which with an eye for detail they can sort out if they want to. For example, we had Italian thin breadsticks, but no butter to dip them in. Another detail overlooked was the quality of the most welcome handful of olives, but they were the cheapest you can buy. Black, bitter and dehydrated. This is what I mean by detail
Another frustration was when the menu offered ‘saute of oysters and mussels' at 49 RON. But they were not oysters, they were clams which is a completely different animal. That mistake was inexcusable.
So I ordered this dish, which was reassuringly large and I enjoyed it. But half the clams were shut tight and the Chef should have rejected them but he didn't – detail again! But from hereon, things got better.
And they couldn't have been better than our two likable waiters. Certainly they asked us if we enjoyed each dish, but I was left with the distinct impression that they really cared about our comfort and enjoyment. Well done, boys!
Now let's look the menu over. They have a pizza section which will serve them well when they open up their huge terrace on the lake in the summer. They are correctly made in a wood fired oven and are sensibly priced around 20 RON. There is a choice of 19 and you know what they are, so we passed on them as we wanted to get down to more interesting stuff.
And it was interesting. They listed separately their house-made fresh pasta from the bought-in dried pasta. So in the fresh section there was a choice of three fettuccini pastas; with cheese, ruccola and sour cream, or with ruccola and baby shrimps, or with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Still on the fresh side there were three gnocchi dumplings; with Gorgonzola, or with quattro formaggi, or with tomato, mozzarella and basil. We chose this and it was excellent
The dried pasta section offered predictable dishes such as the usual spaghettis and linguines. So looking at the meat section they had three lamb chops; grilled, or with tomatoes, oregano and olives, or with a white wine sauce. Instead of these, I chose a beef with mushrooms in a cream and Marsala sauce. I asked the waiter if he had seen a bottle of Marsala wine in the kitchen and he replied that he had.
But it arrived without a hint of Marsala. I brought this to the attention of my waiter who told me that the Chef probably used it sparingly because it is so expensive. “So is my steak at 48 RON,” I replied. Detail again, Chef! But other than the missing wine flavour, it was good and I enjoyed it.
But thing went downhill when I ordered a dessert. Astonishingly, and beyond all belief and understanding, the House does not make its own desserts. Instead they bring them in ready-made by an outside catering company. We were presented with a separate dessert menu with a photograph of each dish on display. I chose a chocolate souflee from a photograph of a souflee with rich melting choco in its center.
What a load of utter bullshit I received instead. A correctly made souflee is as light as air having been made from beaten egg whites. What I received was as heavy as lead, thick chocolate cake with no chocolate filling. It was not a souflee, it was a lie and a fraud.
The only thing I can say in defense of the House is that they do not try to pass off the desserts as being made in their kitchen. They honestly admit they are outsourced and the name of the company is (I think) Belini. They should be avoided and if I were the House I would fire them for bad quality, for they are letting Gondola down.
Gondola will be a success, even if the main reason is because of its location. If the Chinese Embassy is facing you on your left, they are almost opposite on the right side of the road. It is worth a visit and my party and myself will return soon.

Michael Barclay

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