By Nicholas Walton
Unlike many new eateries and bars opened in recent months, Il Milione, a beautiful new Hutchinson House dining room that straddles the border between Central and Admiralty, deserves both a first and a second chance. This is because of two things: the bar should be treated as a destination in itself; and because the main dining room by Michelin-starred Umbrian chef Marco Gubbiotti is yet to open.
Inspired by the travels of Marco Polo, Il Milione has done away with the tacky themes and sugar-laced cocktail lists of Central proper. Instead, expect an impossibly elegant watering hole that specialises in not just gin— the tear-jerker spirit—although they do have a great range, but also in classic cocktails. Browse the list created by acclaimed mixologist Giancarlo Mancino and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into Harry’s Bar in Venice circa 1936. While the decor is sophisticated and modern, there are distinctive hints of the cocktails of yesteryear, from the folded newspaper menus and section of house-made tonic waters, to the glass cases of vintage vermouths, stunning antique shakers and decanters, and menu of spritzers, amaros and negronis. Be sure to try the signature G&T Perfecto, or the Mary Pickford Punch.
If you feel like a nibble, the bar boasts its own menu of delectable bite-sized dishes— including lasagne and breads, baked on site by Gubbiotti. Best known for his love of the earthy cuisine of Umbria, Gubbiotti has refined the classic cooking techniques of the region and laces dishes with the finest imported ingredients directly from his homeland in his heralded restaurant La Bastiglia. His much-anticipated dining room, which will serve a separate menu from the bar and lounge, will open later this month.
G16-21, Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Rd., Central; 852/2481-1120.