Percorso: Glittering Perfection
Percorso // Four Seasons Lion Palace Hotel // 1 Voznesensky Prospekt // Tel. 339 8000 // Open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight // Menu in English // Reservations recommended // Dinner for two with alcohol: 6,510 rubles ($188)
Published: January 29, 2014 (Issue # 1795)
An evening spent at Percorso is nothing less than an event. From the drama of the crystal chandeliers to the tufted furniture, dark woods and roaring fire, everything oozes a certain refined theatricality that is a perfect antidote to the gray, snowy weather outside.
All this glamour comes at a price — but it’s well worth it for the service, atmosphere, and yes, the food.
The Percorso experience starts with the appearance of a basket full of artisanal bread accompanied by homemade butter, two types of salt and small dishes of a fruity, peppery olive oil for dipping — all of which are explained by the server. It proved hard to stop from filling up on the delectable bread once we got going, wishing to try all the different varieties, and so it was a mild relief when the waitress moved it out of reach to place the stunning looking, and tasting, appetizers on the oversized table.
First out of chef Andrea Accordi’s kitchen was a Cartoccio (850 rubles, $24.57), the chef’s gourmet take on a fritto misto, that indulgent seaside favorite of deep-fried seafood and vegetables. The elevated version served at Percorso included perfectly cooked whole scallops alongside shrimp and vegetables. Light, tender and sublimely crunchy, the nibbles were served in a jaunty brown paper bag with a tart lemon jam and a lightly smoky pumpkin gazpacho. A trio of steamed shrimp atop a bed of barley (590 rubles, $17) was another take on seafood which was no less satisfying with its tangle of basil and tomato studded barley and squares of roasted pumpkin in an agrodolce sauce supplying surprising and delicious bursts of brightness.
After a decent pause that allowed us time to luxuriate in the surroundings and enjoy sipping our glasses of Primitivo (350 rubles, $10) and Pinot Grigio (470 rubles, $13.59), the mains arrived with a flurry of activity as three servers brought the dishes to the table.
Keeping to the seafood theme, a slab of rare, grilled tuna atop a puddle of bean puree (1100 rubles, $31.80) studded with citrus was a riot of flavors in which each ingredient played its role and sang out in perfect harmony. Putting in an appearance to ground things, a rack of impeccably grilled lamb chops (1250 rubles, $36.14) leaning against a slice of vegetable terrine was complimented by a garlic and almond sauce that added a softening element to an otherwise very masculine presentation. A small cast-iron pot of roasted potatoes (180 rubles, $5.20) provided an extra hit of starch and salt that was particularly good with the tender meat.
With little room left for dessert but our gluttonous urges now fully in control, we ordered a coconut bar with fruit and basil (450 rubles, $13) that seemed like the least decadent dessert on offer. A long white cigar-shaped roll covered in flaked, toasted coconut, it was an upscale take on a marshmallow that was deceptively complex in both favor and execution. Followed by a pair of expertly drawn espressos (250 rubles, $7.23), it was the ideal end to a flawless meal.
Stepping back out into the cold with the miniature bags filled with chocolates that each diner receives on leaving the restaurant in hand, it was clear that we had experienced a very special event. One that was defined by quality — in the decor, the service, and every single ingredient from which each dish was composed. Planning our return, we headed off into the snowy night.