ADDED FEBRUARY 2010: Maso Franch has now sacked chef Baumgartner
No, there are no Michelin 2* in Trento…so have had to multiply our visits to 1* venues :).
Recently we have visited again two restaurants, Lo Scrigno del Duomo (reviewed here) and Maso Franch (reviewed here). Though neither of them reached, to our taste, the magic and equilibrium of Locanda Margon, both of them nonetheless offered us rather spectacularly good dinners…
We will depart from our usual format, and instead of offering separate formal reviews we will report some memories in parallel. This time we focus with what is ‘around’ the core meal…beginning with the amuse-bouche.
– Flan di lenticchie in crosta di pistacchio su crema di riso con zafferano (Scrigno del Duomo) (Lentil flan in a pistachio croute on saffron rice cream).
Though the presentation is (as often happens here) a bit sloppily executed – even if nicely conceived-, this is a truly impressive amuse bouche, which strikes you for its solidly elegant combination of earthy and aromatic flavours, pleasantly rich in textures.
At Maso Franch, in the mewanhile, they serve:
– Terrina di carciofini con animelle e porcini avvolti in carote; testina di vitello in crosta di erbette (soffritta) su crema di patate; cavolfiore fritto in pastella di birra. (Artichoke terrine with sweetbread and Ceps wrapped in carrots; lightly fried veal ‘testina’ in a herb crout on potato cream; deep fried cauliflower in beer batter
Beautiful, tightly presented, labour intensive, ingredient-dense: the long name of this dish says it all, this is a trademark Maso Franch amuse bouche, in which the chef firmly and almost brutally asserts what he stands for and the range of what he can do, serving what is effectively a full, chromatic and varied dish. We remember with delight the contrast between the soft, intense testina and its delicately crispy crust; the totally luscious terrina with the porcini flavour standing out; the elegant frying of the cauliflower.
The bread arrives…
Oh my, both baskets are quite overwhelming, the Maso favouring chromatism and the Sctigno architecture. All breads are fresh, fragrant, striking. In the Maso Franch one the attention stealer is clearly the black piece with the expected squid ink and an unexpected secret…which we keep a secret.
At the Scrigno what dominates are the ‘cones’ on the left: they are cheese based, and their architectural dominance extends to flavour!
And…after many other things…the petit four:
In line with the general style, the Maso Franch offering overwhelms you with abundant variety, whereas Scrigno favours a more classical restraint. The drawback of the the ten varietes in single items as opposed to the five varieties in double items is that the former is more conducive to arguments… But both are extremely generous, pleasant and display skill in the art of patisserie (we are not sure at Maso Franch, but at Scrigno there is a separate chef of patisserie).
What a treat it was in both places!