San Benno, Munich

Continuing to defy both tradition and our own conventions, the body may be in Germany but the mind and mouth is still in Italy in the third part of our Munich series.

I know I remarked a couple of years ago about the idea of travelling abroad and not eating native food, like eating spaghetti in France, being unacceptable in my opinion. Well, here I take it all back and admit that I am a major hypocrite. It is not easy to avoid, in my defence…

Ammersee 2

Munich is literally swarming with non-German restaurants; Thai and Japanese joints with price tags that have their own price tags – a mild exaggeration, I grant you, but still not exactly within budget – even for a publication called Expensive Tastes. Italian restaurants are the ones that are absolutely everywhere. A place like the lakeside of Ammersee (see pictured above) is an ideal place to have a restaurant of any kind.

Ammersee 1A pebble beach, a pier, blaring thirty-degree sunshine (see pictured) – three very good reasons that business should be booming. And it was. When we visited, there was no way of our sitting outside in any of these places, but after a forty-minute journey on the U-bahn (the Munich tube, to localise it for you), a drink was not my top priority. The lake itself is perfect for swimming – if you did not know any better, you would think you were by the seaside. All I can say is it was heaven to spend an hour in that water.

Going back to Italian restaurants, however, there was one perched down the end of Jon’s road called San Benno, which was my choice for dinner that night. Once again, it was still warm enough to enjoy an albeit smokey al fresco two-course meal. My choice for an apéritif was a Bellini but the waiter, who spoke very good English, very apologetically informed me that it was no longer on the menu (it would be nice to remove it from the printed ones then, really). Second-best thing, then:- my usual tipple of a vodka and coke.

Vitello Tonnato - veal cutlets in a tuna and caper sauce

Vitello Tonnato – veal cutlets in a tuna and caper sauce

We were a bit more fortunate in the choices for food – the night was a night full of veal. Of course the orders were made only half-knowingly, as the titles were in Italian with German explanations – my semi-competent interpretations of both languages were my only guide. Starting with a dish of Vitello Tonnato (see pictured). This was cutlets covered, though not exhaustively, in a sauce of tuna and capers. Another of my own rules broken – no mixing meat and fish in the same dish! Unless it works, of course, and fortunately, in this case it did. While there was no flavour to the meat for all the salt in the sauce, but there were no complaints from me about that – it was still succulent and tasty.

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Moving onto something that I knew well enough – the entrée – Saltimbocca alla Romana (see pictured). Last eaten by me at a restaurant called La Nonna in Wimbledon Village, I was enamoured of the strong basil flavours with the potatoes and meat, though the presentation left a lot to be desired. Here at San Benno, they succeeded where La Nonna failed in this regard, clearing up the plate a bit and making the dish a lot easier on the eyes.

Nevertheless, it was not without fault, though it was more to do with the vegetables – the green beans were perhaps a bit too al dente, with every chew causing a sound not unlike that of a squeegee mop being pulled down a dry window – unpleasant – and the new potatoes, which sadly felt a few days old texture-wise. The meat, however, was very succulent and well-perfumed with the flavours of basil and rosemary. To tell the truth, I did feel like I had eaten half a herb garden by the time I was finished.

Speaking of which, following that – I was finished. The idea of dessert was not even entering my mind by the end. Neither the price nor the service were too bad – they appeared to entertain a lot of regulars too, so perhaps one to visit should you go with a group.