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Art and taste in Enrico Bartolini’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant at MUDEC.
Baxter creates a contemporary oasis of conviviality with a classic flavour, for unforgettable dining experiences.
Art and palate, a combination that ignites the senses. Simply evoking these two elements sets in motion a series of processes of spirit and matter that influence every individual in a unique way. Together, these two apparently distant worlds reveal a great deal about the personality of those who take them on: aesthetic perception, an approach to flavours and their diversity, which underpins the semantic richness of the ingredients of each people.
In Milan, these elements meet in the three Michelin stars of Enrico Bartolini’s restaurant inside the MUDEC museum. An exhibition that the city dedicates to non-European cultures, and which, with the opening of its venue in 2015, wrote a very important page in the new face of the Tortona design district. Its structure, played out in a balance of sinusoids and regular geometries, of glass and concrete translated into diffused and restrained light, is both attractive and alienating. Here Baxter, interpreting the desire to endow an extremely contemporary environment with the warmth of classic, familiar spaces, immediately created an oasis of conviviality that has now undergone a makeover.
Already at the first step, in the entrance lounge, we feel the intimacy of the welcome that Enrico Bartolini and his team reserve for us. The alternation of bookshelves, sofas, armchairs and small tables gives us the immediate sensation of finding ourselves in a house that we know well. The wood, the soft leathers and the saddle-hide offer an embrace and, in their warm tones, enhance the mark of a timeless elegance. It showcases the savoir-faire expressed in the modular solutions of Libelle or in the enveloping lines of Belt; the pursuit of the architecturally unusual of the Jove coffee tables. The light installation “one day I'm gonna make the onions cry” is there to force a smile from us, a prelude to the irony we will find in the dishes perfected by the ingenuity of our chef: from this we sense that the gastronomic experience we are about to indulge in will be unforgettable.
The more formal character of the dining room, expressed by the wood panelling, the colour contrasts played out on a cooler palette, oriented towards shades of ivory and blueberry, and the wide and regular spacing of the super-light Gemma seats, is the mirror of a precise indication. Bartolini likes the table where the guest dines to wear his “uniform”, the ironed tablecloth, the right napkin; the important thing, he says, is not to stop at the impositions of etiquette, “I am happy for people to mop up their sauce with some bread, when it is done tastefully, because it makes the guest feel more comfortable with me and with the place”. And immediately, from the references on the walls, one pictorial and two photographic, we realise that even in the rigour there is room for distraction: indeed, breaking up the severity, we see the portrait of a young woman painted with pop brushstrokes, the gracefully dishevelled pose of a person chatting; then a shot of the Pietà Rondanini, a reminder of the canon and the dispute surrounding it, and one of a collection of plaster pieces under construction, as if those stone giants had decided, on their own, to move.
On the patio, a tropical forest pervaded by the scents of the Mediterranean, inviting the visitor to discover the senses, the atmosphere is relaxed. The outdoor collection, with the iroko pieces by Himba and Hakuna Matata and the pleasantly rough, natural hand-finished textures of the textiles contrasting with the lacquered finishes of Dharma, emphasises the eclecticism that underlies this vital and stimulating exchange between Enrico Bartolini and Baxter.
Ph. Fabrizio Cicconi