Where to eat Milan: El Brellin
In a building that once housed laundries for the local nobility (in the 1700s), El Brellin sits alongside the Naviglio Grande canal, near Milan’s Porta Ticinese gate.
Milan is a huge city, as befits its importance as the business/industrial hub of the north. While most of the tourist action centres around the Duomo, the attractions of the city (especially when it comes to food) can be rather far flung. With a good Metro system, it’s relatively cheap and easy to navigate wherever you need to go. We were staying out near Milan’s impressive central railway station, so bought a 48 hour pass for just over 8 euros each. Given a single ride costs 1.50, we quickly got more than our money’s worth.
August can be fearsomely hot in Italy and Milan is no exception. We headed for the Porta Genova metro station and, on emerging from the depths, had a very short walk down to the canal. While both sides are lined with restaurants and bars, we soon opted to stay on the same side as the train station. In the early evening, the other side was blasted by the full glare of the sun and felt 10 degrees hotter.
We’d got off to a good start. Sitting outside in Italy, it’s hard to avoid the smokers. We found a little restaurant with a ‘love seat’ for two separate from the rest of the alfresco tables. Sold. A couple of cold beers and proseccos later, we had a very short stagger to El Brellin for dinner.
This is a rabbit warren of a restaurant; we were led to the low beamed room at the back (which was, at least, relatively cool) and proceeded to check out the possibilities. We’d read it was noted for its tiramisu – one of gluttonous husband’s favourite desserts – but first things first. Ordering a bottle of Lambrusco (perfect weather for a chilled red wine), we opted to share a starter – the salmon tartare, guacamole and gazpacho seen at the top of this post. Light, refreshing, cold; Greedy Girl felt the tomato dominated but it certainly went down the hatch.
Next up, gluttonous husband had a blast from the past – tournedos Rossini. This was a hefty piece of fillet steak topped with pate and summer black truffle and a pile of mashed potato on the side. Not the most obvious dish to order on such a hot night, but gluttonous husband commented it was very tasty, if cooked a little too much for his liking.
Greedy Girl opted for a Milanese classic – saffron risotto with bone marrow sauce. As you’d expect, the rice was cooked perfectly and the bone marrow sauce definitely tasted better than it looked. Greedy Girl was very happy with the dish.
Gluttonous husband was intent on having the tiramisu. Apologies for the quality of the photographs, but the room is very dark.
A relatively light, perfectly edible dessert but it missed both the coffee and booze hit gluttonous husband loves about tiramisu.
Done. We paid up and prepared to depart. Many online reviews of this restaurant are highly critical of the service here but we found the staff to be very obliging and more than happy to work with our fractured Italian. English is certainly spoken more often than it used to be in Italy. The mobility engendered by the EU has effectively forced all nations in it to adopt English as a second language but that doesn’t mean travellers should take it for granted. A greeting, a thank you and being able to pronounce the menu items as they should be goes a long way.
Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 14, Milan