NEWS that a posho West End restaurant has been forced to close its doors wouldn’t usually fill me with glumness. But, oh, how I am bemoaning the loss – temporary or not – of Locanda Locatelli.
The celebrated Portman Square hangout has been left homeless following a gas explosion in the five-star Hyatt Regency Churchill hotel that houses it.
And now its chef-patron, Giorgio Locatelli, says he may abandon the site and try to re-open elsewhere.
So why my gloom? Well, because a visit to Locanda Locatelli last year marked the beginning of a brave new world for us as a family. It’s where we ate our first meal out, fully catered for Sidney.
Now, clearly, I wouldn’t normally countenance a £30 a dish restaurant as the ideal place to take a toddler for lunch. But this meal was the ultimate gift to an Allergy Mama: organised behind my back, a surprise for my birthday from my Mum and husband, both of whom bravely took over the reins dealing with our complicated allergy requests and managing to sort a three-course meal for nine of us, where every single item on the table was safe for Sidney to eat.
EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM.
From the breadsticks to the homemade rosetta rolls – beloved of my childhood trips to Rome – the cicchetti and tomato pizzette brought out with our aperitifs, through the starters, main courses and even a specially prepared birthday cake, every single thing on that table was prepped free from cross contamination and Sidney-safe.
Breadsticks! As a rule, and because I’m such a control freak, the sorting of safe food for Sidney is My Job. But the reason my Mum and husband knew they were on safe ground is because I’d been banging on about how much I’d like to try taking Sidney to Locanda Locatelli one day (subtle, me) because, as he revealed in a Guardian interview several years ago now, Giorgio Locatelli’s own daughter Margherita, has multiple severe allergies: everything from eggs to nuts, fish, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers… As her mother Plaxy put it in a bathetic refrain no doubt familiar to most of us allergy parents: “Thank God she likes potatoes.”
Not only was this meal the best birthday present ever (of course, Sidney stuffed his little face so full of breadsticks, and rolls, and bits of pizza, that he could barely manage the rest of his meal), but it opened the floodgates. The following day, I made a New Year’s resolution: to find at least five Sidney-safe places where we could eat out as a family in 2014.
You know what? We found more than that. So, coming up in my next post is a run-down of our favourite allergy friendly eateries for the past year.
And for 2015 I am setting myself a task to find some more. And hoping Locanda Locatelli reopens in the new guise of an affordable, nationwide chain 😉
See this Allergy UK link for a video interview with Giorgio Locatelli
**UPDATE – FEB 2015** Woop! Locanda Locatelli has announced it will be reopening on March 14. Now to lobby for that high street offshoot…