Theo Randall at The InterContinental
1 Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY
WLC Rank : 52
Glass from : £ 7 (125 ml)
BEST FORWine-paired regional dinners
Ingredient-led dishes by Theo Randall
Expect a particularly dynamic selection of predominantly Italian wines at Theo Randall’s long-established Park Lane dining room.
“It made me proud when a scientist on the news said they’d open a bottle of Prosecco when a cure for Covid-19 was found. A few years ago, they would have said Champagne,” says Sicilian-born Stefano Filistad. Born in Taormina, Filistad was “dragged” into tourism from the age of 14 by family and friends – but it became an industry he learned to love. Although later studying finance, the draw of hospitality and a desire to learn English took him to London’s Paddington’s Hilton Metropole Hilton “where I witnessed the London Eye being built from the windows of the service floor”, he says. He was later mandated to the navy for military service, performing duties off the coast of Puglia.
Returning to London because the city was “in my heart”, Filistad worked at Park Lane’s InterContinental from 2006, the year waiter-turned-chef Theo Randall (formerly of The River Café) opened his restaurant. Filistad describes Randall as “a true man of hospitality”, achieving perfect balance between being a “hands-on chef” and “a celebrity”.
The wine list celebrates the biodiversity of Italy’s grapes and their interaction with the soil, microclimate and hand of the winemaker. To that end there are wines such as Elisabetta Foradori’s Manzoni Bianco in orange. Despite the Park Lane setting, mark-ups are generally fair, even on rarities such as the 30-year-old Barbacarlo di Lino Maga from Lombardy.
Being “the business card of the list”, which “never discriminates”, the by-the-glass selection might feature Nero di Troia blend P. Petrilli, which, when served with seafood, subverts the canonical rule that only white will do.
Of the future, expect an increase in the number of wines from Etna, which Filistad rates immensely, including Girolamo Russo’s San Lorenzo. “It makes me so proud to look through my little window when I’m back in Taormina and see Etna,” says Filistad. Indeed, as part of a regional series, he is eagerly looking forward to Randall’s Sicily dinner, featuring pasta with sardines, pine nuts, saffron, sultanas and pangrattato. Also on the cards, expect an emergence of wine flights where Italy is pitched against
Italian grapes and Italian winemakers from elsewhere.
Filistad takes a great interest in cocktails, too, recommending the “savoury, intense, cleansing caper Martini with essence of Amalfi lemon leaves, and gin infused with capers and celery”. This mirrors components when served with the tuna tartare starter.
Having witnessed “the revolution” in the capital’s cocktail scene, Filistad enjoys visiting east London bars on reconnaissance, such as Three Sheets, and loves glamorous Oriel for jazz. “You can never visit everything because new places are always opening,” he laments.
During the initial days of the lockdown, Filistad enjoyed cooking from Theo Randall’s cookbooks. “I wanted to understand his dishes more, though this did mean I needed to exercise, so I bought a bike.”
By Douglas Blyde.