|Lunch 11:30am - 2:30pm; Dinner 6pm - 10pm|
|Temple House Hotel, Tai Koo Li, 81 Bitieshi St.|
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Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
Temple House is a boutique hotel on the rear side of Tai Koo Li that manages to look very traditional on the outside with a mix of classic and modern style on the inside. When we arrived, the super efficient host whisked us through the lobby and down the stairs into Tivano, their house Italian restaurant, where we were hosted for the evening.
We were seated and settled down with a loaf of fresh bread served with a pool of olive oil and a crock of very good balsamic vinegar. The menu, with Italian and English on one side and Chinese on the other, offers a few starters, entrees, sides, pizzas, pastas and sweet things. Although offering very standard categories of dishes, the menu definitely lists some interesting plates that you will not find at other Italian places in town, like a Goat Cheese Pizza and a Pasta with Rabbit and Chick Peas. The wine list is similarly thoughtful and eclectic with bottles of red, white and bubbles from all parts.
The starters we tried were share friendly with mushrooms grilled and mixed with roasted tomatoes and a lemony housemade ricotta. There were very good marinated olives and grilled and pickled vegetables garnishing the plates. We tried a very classic Parma Ham Pizza, which came out covered generously with flavourful ham, tangy arugula and a little bit of cheese all over a thin crust with good blisters from the oven. We also tried the Goat Cheese Pizza with raisins, broccoli and basil, which is a good choice for those who want to try something out of the ordinary. The Tiramisu is a very traditional, boozy version made with marsala. We also enjoyed a nutty Semifreddo (happy that they got the smooth half-melted texture right) with almond nougat and pistachios added for interest.
The attentive servers have been well trained about the menu, steering us towards the best dishes when ordering, changing plates between courses, and bringing fresh silverware. The interior is beautifully designed but relaxed enough to feel comfortable either dressed up or in street clothes, and many of the tables were couples or groups of friends out for the evening. The bill will be in the mid three figures per person; bottles of wine are mostly in the mid three figures and up.