The biggest surprise for me on my summer trip to Italy this year was dining at the two-star Michelin restaurant, Seta, in the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Milan. I usually have a pet peeve about dining in hotels, but when circumstances led me to cancel a previous reservation, I decided to try Seta for convenience sake more than anything else.
The restaurant is located on the main floor of the Mandarin Oriental. It’s sophisticated, with indoor and outdoor spaces, which include intimate private rooms or windows that allow a connection between indoor and outdoor. Seta is Italian for “silk”, which is fitting for such a luxurious restaurant. The tables are large and properly spaced, and the rooms are gorgeous and well furnished, in a chic, elegant way. There are about 45 seats indoors and another 45 outside in a beautiful, romantic, courtyard, with a window looking into the busy, spotless kitchen.
Chef Guida worked previously at the two star Il Pellicano as head chef. He trained at some of the most celebrated Michelin starred restaurants before that, such as, at the famed Don Alfonso and at Enoteca Pinchiorri. It is no wonder that last year he won chef of the year in Milan.
The dishes at Seta were expertly crafted, refined and original. The chef uses his own techniques inspires by colourful and unique ingredients, and his dishes were imaginative and sublime.
Our tasting menu at 120 Euroes, started with some wonderful bread and two types of butter. The evening began with the requisite amuse bouche – and all were excellent. We moved on to a white and green asparagus with snails, goat cheese, and garlic cream. Next we tried the cauliflower presented under a glass dome in an almond milk sauce, yuzu juice, and frutti di mare, which offered a nice selection of seafood. We followed with a risotto with vegetables, in a Maccagno cheese and raspberry powder. We enjoyed a spaghetti with mackerel sauce and cuttlefish. The bottoni was filled with red prawns and basil, and served with chickpeas in a ginger scented consommé. One of our desserts was a ginger cream with mango, passion fruit, and lemongrass ice cream. The meal reached its climax with the high-end pastries. One of my favourite treats was the chocolate cart, where you can make a selection of hand chopped wedges of sinfully decadent chocolate.
The food is not theatrical but rather, elaborate and innovative. The wine list has about 600 labels, mostly from Italy but there were also wines from France and Germany, as well.
The service is exemplary, professional and attentive, and committed to excellence. They tried to make our experience most memorable.
For me, this is one of Milan’s best dining destinations. Seta sets the bar high, with original, conceptual Italian dishes, that not only looks stunning but also taste it. This culinary experience reminds me that North American restaurants have a long way to go, with the exception of a sacred few.