Having a lazy lunch on Friday means just one thing: It’s going to be a calorific treat. And by the end of it all, you would have carried back a few extra pounds. OK, I exaggerate. But I am dramatic by nature.
However, Giannino, the first international outpost of the famous Milanese restaurant patronised by the Beckhams, Justin Timberlake and Giorgio Armani, at the Meydan Beach Club, doesn’t believe in the philosophy of overdoing it. The decor (all white exterior with plump olive green and purple cushions), the ambience (modern yet chilled out) and the food (streamlined and delicious) nudges you to just take it easy. It’s posh but isn’t pretentious.
My partner and I took along our toddler and she was more than happy to traipse around black and white checked marble floors, check out the striped ceiling and gaze at the lush view of an infinity pool and the beach. She did all this without inviting any censure from table waiters wearing the cutest of suspenders.
After biting into some olives, mixed nuts and freshly baked bread, we dove into the lunch menu that was divided into antipasti, the pasta primi piatti, mains and desserts. As we took in the sunlit surroundings, our antipasti platter, which was designed for grazing, materialised in front of us swiftly. On the first plate, there was a fennel salad with slivers of grapefruit and citrus dressing, roasted artichokes and bell peppers, and calamari tossed with bread cubes. Our vote went for the fennel salad. It was incredibly fresh and the citrus dress had the right tang. It was like holiday on a plate.
However, the second platter is where the real stuff hid. Slices of cold veal with tuna sauce, shredded duck and beef Carpaccio topped with a mound of fennel shavings made it the perfect summer meal. It felt light but was packed with flavours. My partner, who isn’t too adventurous with meat, did the unthinkable. He had the wafer-thin Carpaccio and is now a fan. For the pasta, we chose the macaroni in spicy tomato sauce along with homemade ravioli with potatoes and string beans, Genoese curd and basil pesto sauce.
The winner here was the ravioli with potatoes. Drenched in a thick basil pesto sauce, the ravioli with potatoes was cooked perfectly and did not fall prey to stodginess. Completely appeased, the bar was already set high. Perhaps, that’s why we weren’t totally blown away by the mains.
My mind was set on veal meatballs Milanese style with raw asparagus salad, while my partner was mulling over his choice of going for pan-fried fish or chicken breast hot pot with tomato, oregano and caper sauce. After going back and forth, we decided on the sea-food option but it seems to have got lost in translation as what appeared was the chicken hot pot on a bed of silky smooth potatoes and dollops of caper sauce.
Not that we were complaining. The fried veal meatballs were cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside and slightly pink inside. The creamy dressing by the side was a guilty pleasure but by then we were far too into calorie crime anyway. The chicken dish wasn’t as impressive as my partner found it a bit chewy.
But the desserts made us forget any misgivings. You can’t go wrong with apple tart with cinnamon ice-cream and ricotta cheese, chocolate and fruit parfait with strawberry sauce. Just like the ambience that puts you in an instant holiday mode, the desserts were heavenly and transported us to a place where calorie count doesn’t exist.