June 30 – July 1, 2015
Hotel – Gran Duca di York
Hotels in central Milan are crazy expensive. Still, we like the convenience of being within walking distance of major sights and dining and opted for this boutique hotel on a quiet street a couple of blocks from the Duomo.
The hotel has a smallish feel – no long waits at the elevator. The rooms, if not extraordinary, are well appointed with comfortable beds and plush towels. Wifi and the mini bars contents – juices and water – are included in the room price.
The breakfast buffet – also included in the room price – has a good selection of sweet and savory options including scrambled eggs and bacon. The coffee is OK but not great. You can, however, order a double expresso with a side of milk if you want a more European rather than American style of coffee.
Dining in Milan
We let the front desk clerk choose the restaurants for us. The first night he directed us to Hosteria Borromei, a small establishment on a quiet street tucked behind the hotel. The garden terrace is an enclosed atrium covered by a thick vine. Judging from the guests at the nearby tables and the Tripadvisor reviews, the dining room is a frequent recommendation of the local hotels.
The traditional menu had a solid selection of Italian favorites, including more southern specialties such as caponata. We started with the eggplant caponata – rich and silky – followed by the sea urchin pasta and then the sliced tuna with lemon and the osso buco milanese for mains. The fish was perfectly cooked but maybe a little too heavy on the lemon. The osso buco was beautifully done and fork tender served with the classic Milanese saffron risotto.
The quaint pedestrian only streets around the Brera district are lined with sidewalk terrace dining. Misters cool the warm summer evening air. The clerk at our hotel had recommended l’Osteria di Brera, for their fish.
The menu is traditional, and while specializing in fish also offers a broad selection of meat dishes including osso buco. To start we split the spinach salad – a simple salad of baby spinach leaves, sun dried tomatoes, corn and chunks of mozzarella – followed by the sea urchin pasta – yes, it’s one of my favorites. For mains we tried the grilled orata (sea bream) and the bronzino with fresh porcinis. Both fish dishes were nicely done but included only the fish – side dishes are ordered separately.
Lunch at one the restaurants in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
While the pizzas were nicely done with a crisp cracker style crust, this – as one would imagine – is not the place to have lunch if you are looking for a bargain. While the pizzas were reasonably priced, the small draft beers were 8 Euro each.