If The Royal Tenenbaums’ family story remains an everlasting movie, when I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel it was love at first sight. The Bar Luce, designed by the director of these and many other masterpieces – Wes Anderson – seems the perfect miniature reconstruction of a movie set.
Even though it is described as a place recalling the atmosphere in the old Milanese cafés – mainly because of the Formica tables, of the floor and the furniture from the Italian design in the ’50 and ’60 – here there is much more. There is that inspiration touch, a brilliant irregularity that creates a homogenous, still fragmented, totality, rich in details, like the vault ceiling which reminds the one of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the brass contours, the shiny lights and the pastel colours.
Maybe it is because of the flow of people, maybe because of the huge variety of colours, lights, materials and architectonical elements that characterize the location, but entering you often feel floored. “It is hard to find a perfect perspective” as Anderson said. My suggestion? Come here one morning, maybe for a breakfast with a good book, to fully enjoy its ambiance; if you feel to, you could even play a pinball match.
The system at the Bar Luce reproduce the (winning) one of some historical Milanese sandwich temples like De Santis or I Panini Crocetta. A long menu divided according to the cured meat type – baked ham, raw ham, Prague ham, salami, bresaola, roast-beef, bologna, speck, culatello – joined by porchetta, foie-gras, vegetarian sandwiches and fish – shrimps, salmon and tuna. Everyone combined with other equally tasty ingredients, including sauces and dressings, that, once again, make the sandwich a real must in the Milanese tradition and routine.
This could sound prosaic, but being able to prepare a sandwich really full of taste is not an easy job. And I am not saying it must be a gourmet one. The bread is fundamental. It must be warm – with all the proper attention to the cured meats – slightly crispy, not too much stuffed with its soft inside and basically thin. Those white small breads a little flourish. Abundant and high quality ingredients. Unavoidable sauces. Basically, a delicate equilibrium game that at the Bar Luce can be tasted in an extravagant, and sometimes surreal, setting.
Photo credit: Attilio Maranzano