To say that there was a fair amount of hype surrounding the opening of Tipo 00's sister restaurant Osteria Ilaria would be an understatement. Situated right next door to Tipo (where Du Nord used to be), Osteria Ilaria sticks with the Italian theme of its sister restaurant, but veers away from the traditional pasta and risotto dishes that Tipo 00 is famed for. Instead, expect to see the likes of pork liver sausage with spiced sourdough and rhubarb, roast corn fed duck with radicchio and hazelnuts and roast pork scotch fillet with apple and fennel crumbs.
On this occasion, to start with we had the zucchini flowers with Jerusalem artichoke and mizuna, and well as the baby octopus. The zucchini flowers were cooked to perfection and oozed with flavour when sliced open. The baby octopus was another win - easily cut with a butter knife and rich with flavour.
The baby calamari came out looking beautiful - but was a touch on the tough side and needed an extra burst of acidity. Tasting overwhelmingly like fish, the paccheri with crystal bay prawns and sorrel was also on the disappointing side - and yes I am aware that prawns are a creature of the sea, but that shouldn't mean that the flavour of the entire dish is overpowered by a fishy taste.
For the mains, the whole whiting with pippies and sea herbs was exceptional, easily flaking into large juicy flakes of meat when digging in with your fork. The nettle gnocchi with blue cheese and almonds was another highlight of the night - plump fluffy balls of gnocchi covered in an incredibly rich sauce. However, because of the richness of the blue cheese sauce, this is probably one of those dishes which are best shared because even I as a blue cheese lover could foresee myself struggling with trying to get through a whole dish of this myself.
Also, don't feel too bad if you haven't saved room for desert - whilst coming out looking magnificent, the sheep's yogurt semifreddo with pistachio and orange was tasty, but no more so than a serving of Jock's ice-cream that you can get on the way home.
Whilst there were a number of hits, there were also a number of misses and Osteria Ilario didn't quite meet the high expectations I had walking through their doors. But in its growing pain stages, I'd still say it was worth a try - especially if you include the whole whiting in your order.
Verdict: Like - get around to trying it at some point.