Contraste is in a world by itself

Before visiting Contraste Milano, I similarly read on other blogs about how Contraste is in a world by itself – detached from the surroundings and hard to find. Indeed, I too do think that Contraste is a place which belongs to a hidden city.

I walked past Contraste multiple times thinking that Google Maps has failed me, before noticing the inconspicuous sign stating “Contraste”, just beside an equally nondescript door.

Using the intercom system, I was let past the iron door and into a small but beautiful garden. The quiet serenity of the garden within these walls are already so distinct from the bustle of the city streets just outside. There, I met a man in a suit, who led me into the Milanese house where Contraste is in.

Contraste Milano interior - tables
Interior at Contraste Milano - red chandeliers

Unlike the quiet and calming design of the garden, the interiors within Contraste are very much eccentric. Some people summarize it as Art Nouveau, which is not wrong. But that description is missing out the most important bits – what really what caught my attention were the pieces of furniture that seem inspired by mutation of alien organic forms (albeit tastefully done).

While Contraste is housed inside a traditional Milanese house, the interiors are far from classic. Instead, they were fun and quirky, with predominant features of white, cream, and bright red-orange hues.

Contraste Milano table centrepiece
Contraste Milano interior

We were promptly seated and then introduced to the concept at Contraste Milano. There is a more classic menu and also the reflection menu, which is what we decided to go for. At Contraste, the “reflection” menu is a meeting between the diner and the kitchen. The menu physically displays a mirror and the message is that Contraste seeks to deliver a menu that becomes a reflection – both as a form of thinking and also as a reflection of the diner’s tastes.

While somewhat inspired by the concept at ancient osterias where the host would listen to the diner and come up with customised recommendations, dining at Contraste is at the same time nothing like the ancient osterias – nothing here is what it seems to be. There is a continuous study, reinterpretation, and even reimagination of not just what tradition is, but even something as fundamental as what is “carbonara”.

introducing the il Riflesso, reflection menu

The Food and the Fun

We were given a jewellery box, and then presented a key.

First up, in a dramatic fashion and all at once, a locked jewellery box was placed before each diner. We were then presented a key to uncover the treasures within.

Jewellery box trio - Contraste Milano

trio of Sardines “in saor”, Zucchini croissant and Ricotta cheese, Watermelon and campari.

caprino cheese sugar onion, foie gras creme brulee, langoustine rose - trio at Contraste Milano

Next came the trio of “fake onion” caprino cheese in sugar candy, a foie gras crème brulee, and a langoustine “rose”.

Octopus-chorizo cake, carbonara, yogurt ice cream sandwich
Octopus-Chorizo Cake at Contraste Milano
carbonara at Contraste Milano
frozen yogurt sandwich made with “bread” of black olives and almonds

Another small array of dishes subsequently arrived, and this turned out to be my favourite set that night. Here we see the ideas and creativity at Contraste Milano. We had an octopus-chorizo cake with potato as the sponge, carbonara reimaged as a bite-sized spherical ball, and a frozen yogurt sandwich made with “bread” of black olives and almonds. All were exquisite, and the yogurt sandwich was the perfect ending to this set. Also extremely pretty to look at, but don’t take too long because the frozen yogurt will melt!

Coincidentally, I was talking to my mother about how we both missed Chinese food when the familiar fragrance of sesame oil whiffed by. We were then introduced to our next dish – scallop noodles, parmesan cheese, and dashi.

scallop noodles, parmesan cheese, and dashi

The scallop noodles were of a nice springy texture, while the parmesan cheese alongside sesame oil brought out an interesting contrast. I read an interview whereby Chef Matias Perdomo shared that the restaurant was aptly named Contraste because his restaurant serves to highlight the contrasts of the kitchen, between hot and cold, sweet and salty, between everything. However, at the end of the day, harmony reigns. In this dish, we see contrast in approaches, but they work harmoniously with each other and bring out the best flavours. Intensely satisfying.

Tuna empanadas
Mussels, cheese, and black pepper
Ravioli of a zafron risotto

Tuna empanadas, Mussels, cheese, and black pepper, Ravioli of a zafron risotto

veal sweetbreads, macadamia, and pesto

I have two individual favourites that night – first would be this dish of veal sweetbreads, macadamia, and pesto. Nice crisp on the outside, with a delightful fattiness within. Aromatic without any undesirable smells. Fragrant pesto too, and a nice tinge of sour that works well together, cutting through all the richness.

veal sweetbreads, macadamia, and pesto
Eel with polenta
Beef fillet with

Eel with polenta, Beef fillet with “hay” and “grass”

Italian Pork Scallops

Finally, my other favourite will be this amazing delight of Italian Pork Scallops. Inspired by the Milanese pork cutlet, this uses meat that alternates between muscles and fats (as clearly seen!), making it extremely soft and tender. All held in place by a thin squid ink batter.

Super delicious, served drizzled with a rich pork gravy. Didn’t expect much given the dull presentation, but this was full of flavour and blew me away.

Desserts at Contraste Milano
Pulp fiction at Contraste Milano
Apple Tarte Tatin
Lego dessert at Contraste Milano

Black forest, Pulp fiction, Apple tarte tatin, and Carrots Cake.

Rose cake
Rose cake - soft and fluffy

We ended of the meal with this Rose’s cake, a simple and well executed cake made from egg, sugar, and water. Nice and fluffy with a light lingering sweetness.

Contraste Milano - a must visit restaurant in Milan

The Secret by Matteo Pugliese, at Contraste Milano

As we enter and as we leave, we see at the main door a statue by Matteo Pugliese, known as “The Secret” and widely seen as an icon of the restaurant. This sculpture is based on the idea of keeping Contraste Milano well hidden ; but truthfully, everyone knows of the restaurant since this place comes so highly recommended.

A must visit restaurant in Milan; I’m happy I managed to visit despite it being the very busy Milan fashion week.

Contraste Milano

Via Meda 2, Milano
T. 02 49536597

il Riflesso menu at Contraste Milan, the famous reflection menu