Creative cuisine, complex dishes, portions ' minimal ', garnish the choreography and innovative techniques: that's what most people expect when they go to dinner at a restaurant with a Michelin star. But this is not always the case. You can, instead, make a traditional cuisine using ingredients of excellence, presented with elegance, the most abundant portions, without exhibiting modernist techniques but with a sound understanding of balance and have a well deserved Michelin star. This is demonstrated by the restaurant The Caffi Acqui Terme, that traditional Piedmontese asked a flag, starting from the place: the restaurant is housed in the former Town Hall of Acqui, dating back to 1500, and the Hall – furnished deliberately minimalist way – has a wonderful fresco on the ceiling of the era. Love your memory, though, the ability to grasp the news and the expectations of the public, and the restaurant offers lunch or dinner ' starred ', but also a brasserie (with wide choice of grilled meats), for a more informal dinner with the possibility of making aperitifs or even, simply, small snacks with high quality products, along with a glass of wine.
The dishes are not exclusively from Piedmont, but regionality still dominates, especially in commodities that originate, in almost all, from the territory. Beautiful and delicate the mise en place, with Pearl Grey, candles, porcelain figurines and small Succulents on the tables, that in the restaurant area are round and very spacious. Bread, bread sticks, Focaccia and pasta are prepared daily. We tried two tasting menus to 60 euro, especially with proposals of meat but also with small hikes in fish, ordering different dishes from each other (No one has urged to choose the same dishes, as too often happens in restaurants). The chef's welcome was a spicy pepper in the oven, with mousse of tuna and capers and pickled caper leaf.
The restaurant "The Caffi” It wasn't always in Acqui Terme. At first it was in Cassinasco, in the province of Asti, within the region called "Caffi": opened by the will of Brown Dog (self-taught) and Paul Chiriotti in 1977, He moved first to Acqui and then, six years ago, in the very centre of the spa town. Today, Sara, the daughter of brunette with her husband husband Piero, carry on the family tradition. The Michelin star coming in 2013. The restaurant offers an a la carte menu, but I recommend to choose the path of one of four affordable tasting suggestions, combinations of different prices where the dishes you choose all from the main card: It starts with a 60 euro (two appetizers, first, main course and dessert), a small menu’ at 50 euros (Starter, first, main course and dessert), a menu of sea at 62 euros and, Finally, the chef's menu: nine courses according to the imagination and the proposed market ', at a price of 120 euro. On the wine front, You can choose from a really well-stocked, with a huge selection of Piedmontese labels, Italian and international (mainly French), or you can opt for the wine tasting paired with the menu: at a cost of 15 euros or 20 euros. Among the starters, I tried a soft stewed artichoke stuffed with cheese "Seirass” (a Piedmontese cow's milk based product, often compared to the softer taste ricotta tart) served with a saffron cream soup.
A dip in more typical Piedmont tradition with the joke to the Piedmont fassona beef breed knife, served in great simplicity: with lemon juice in a glass, a mousse of robiola di Roccaverano Dop, black truffle and three types of salt. Very well executed dish, with excellent quality of meat. A great classic that I recommend to try it in every area of Piedmont. In paper, even a seasonal salad with fruit and breast of quail. The entrees are between 17 and 20 euro.
Then, a small fish incursion, with Seared Scallops with celery root puree, milk and lemon foam. Definitely one of the most unique menu combinations, fresh and tasty. Perfect cooking scallops, pleasant citrusy lemon touch, that dampens the lightly smoked of celeriac.
Finally, a retelling of a classic winter dish: cotechino, served on crispy crust with Savoy cabbage stew and a savory Sabayon flavored with balsamic vinegar. You can not just say that the fat of cotechino is ' lightened’ from this interpretation, except for the very slight acetic note balsamico. However, the plate was right in quantity and tasty because of this particular fatness. Pair with a wine Alta Langa Docg brut was particularly apt.
As a starter, I chose the great classics tajarin with duck sauce: no restatement, neither in substance or in form, for a dish executed perfectly and that, in my imagination, has always been the great culinary tradition of Piedmont, made of flavorful meat sauces and amazing thin and crispy egg pasta. The first courses, ordered to the paper, fluctuate between 17 and 20 euro.
Still some egg pasta, This time more elaborate, for the ravioli of thistle with the heart of robiola cheese and melted butter, served with black truffle. The hunchback Cardoon of Nizza Monferrato, Slow Food, is a product that in Acqui Terme is pretty much at zero distance and,usually, It is served with a cheese fonduta. Here's the recipe has been covered and transformed into a dish delicate and soft, with a yummy fat component given by butter and cheese. In paper, also some Leek cannelloni with pumpkin and Parmesan fondue and two fish dishes, a lasagna with artichokes and shrimp and a cream of Jerusalem artichokes with Octopus.
Regional cuisine and abundance with the main courses: five of those in paper, between 20 and 24 euro. I tried the rack of lamb crusted with flowers and herbs, cooked rare and served with a classic mashed potatoes and stewed artichokes: a flawless and substantial dish, with cooking well executed (Pink and juicy meat) and served in a portion that I have rarely seen in a restaurant with a Michelin star.
I could describe with the same words the soft breast of Guinea fowl, stuffed with ricotta cheese and chestnuts, wrapped in pancetta and served with carrots, sauteed potatoes and fennel: a plate tradizionalissimo, Well done, tasty and plentiful. The main courses of I Caffi are definitely part of the menu where you least one interprets and reinterprets, Maybe for a wary respect for the great Piedmontese who made farm animals and breed fassona beef a true trademark. In paper, you will also find a braised veal in Barbera wine Docg and a sliced herbal fassona.
I couldn't taste the cheeses for capacity reasons, but I must compulsorily mention the great selection of niche regional productions: the cost ranges from 8 to 20 euro, According to the quantity. Among the proposals the Rosso di Langa, the Castel Belbo, blue-veined cheeses in Marc and, Obviously, the robiola di Roccaverano Dop in various ages and gorgonzola Dop. I tasted the gelato, which is made by hand, the taste of lavender, thyme and mozzarella, delicate and fresh character.. I also tried a parfait (viola) (some’ too ' creamy ') with reduction of Brachetto d'acqui Docg, a fitting tribute to a much-loved wine around here, It deserves even more attention by restaurateurs and not only in conjunction with desserts and in declination with cake. Finally, at the end of the meal, I tried a natural yoghurt with pollen, cookies, apples with Calvados and cocoa sorbet and petits fours made daily: Madeleine, ugly but good, Baci di dama. In paper, among the desserts, a mille-feuille with hazelnut mousse Tonda gentile delle Langhe and some other great classics like the dark chocolate cake and Crepes with citrus Compote: even on the gentle the proposal is definitely Orthodox traditional, with a fondness for fresh flavors and ice cream. If you switch from Acqui Terme, Ginger is a restaurant on which point.
(Visited in March 2017)