Friday 5 April 2019

grown-up food: A is for albergo, art and attitude: Albergo ristor...

grown-up food: A is for albergo, art and attitude: Albergo ristor...: Albergo ristorante San Giors, Borgo Dora, Torino My accommodation of choice is a self-catering apartment. I love to be able to...

A is for albergo, art and attitude: Albergo ristorante San Giors, Torino

Albergo ristorante San Giors, Borgo Dora, Torino

My accommodation of choice is a self-catering apartment. I love to be able to shop and cook when I am away and to take advantage of the local produce in the markets. However, for a night or two, it’s just not worth it and a hotel makes sense for a short stay.

Or does it? So many hotels have become faceless; a clean bed in an international environment, with a buffet breakfast and a pleasant receptionist. I know this is all that is needed but you could be anywhere in the world.

But oh, my goodness, if its character you want, the art hotel and restaurant San Giors in Borgo Dora in Turin, has it all and at 85 Euros per night plus local tourist tax, for a double room, it doesn’t come expensive. It is close to the famous Porta Palazzo and Balon markets, a ticky-tacky, but fascinating and thriving area of the city. The famous landmarks, museums and night-life are in walking distance and the area is well served by public transport.

Livia the receptionist in the hotel is a gem, she speaks and writes perfect English and is efficient and friendly. She greets you as you arrive, dressed in waistcoat, trousers and tie, fitting admirably into the turn-of-the-century, (nineteenth century) atmosphere.
The ground floor is little more than a small reception desk, a bar and a seriously good restaurant, furnished with bentwood chairs, polished tables, a piano, parlour palms and mirrors.

The rooms are on two floors but be warned there is no lift and you need to manage your luggage yourself. The décor of each room has been created by a contemporary artist and each one has a striking identity. The second-floor landing has a stunning geometric trompe-l’oeil.

The San Giors (St George) has a long and varied history, there are documents that link it back to the sixteenth century. It has enjoyed highs and lows and is now in a good place, in the hands of its present owner. Architect, Simona Vlaic, who has successfully created a “Salon” type atmosphere which is not just décor deep. While we were there, early on Sunday evening, a small group of friends turned up for a drink. Two of them opened-up guitars and played impromptu jazz riffs around a table while we chatted to the Chef. Thursday evenings are music/dinner evenings.

The restaurant is in the capable and creative hands of chef Manolo Murrone who spent 25 years working his way around the kitchens of Europe before coming to rest in Turin two years ago. He takes and revisits traditional Piemontese gastronomy, adding a splash of his native Sardinia flair creating tantalising and tempting dishes that at times are surprising but always pleasing. Tonno finto (faux tuna, read rabbit) with saffron flavoured apples and lime, Agnolotti del plin, cooked in Barolo wine (so far so traditional) then tossed with a brunoise of salted pears. His opening amuse bouche are a delight and it really is. worth eating your way through the whole colourful tasting menu… if you have the staying power. His food is not only beautiful but delicious, based as it is on the highest quality seasonal ingredients.
Expect to pay 60 Euros per head with drinks and wine.

Hotel and restaurant owner, the quirky and friendly Simona Vlaic is very much in evidence in her business. Yes this is, a hotel with personality! She is out front, doubles as maitre in the restaurant and is in-charge of quality control in the kitchen. Chef Manolo has dubbed her the Pirana, which I get the feeling she secretly enjoys.

All the waiting staff are friendly and at the same time very professional and you are just as likely to see them at breakfast as at dinner. Like receptionist Livia, they are also clad retro style. When our waiter bid us good night, he promised my husband the best cappuccino of his life in the morning…and it was!

Chef Manolo's insalata albese, piemontese crudo, veal salad