El Tombon de San Marc sits on a rather special corner in the heart of Milan.

Just in front of it, the road widens out and an open sky yawns overhead where usually apartment blocks and ancient palazzi tower over us in this crowded city.

This is where water once flowed through the Navigli canals, a complex system of waterways designed by Da Vinci himself to transport huge hunks of marble to the centre of the city for the construction of the Duomo cathedral.

This link here shows how Milan used to be a lot more similar to Venice than you may have thought. The first few pictures were taken just around the corner from where Magro and I have been living, where the old locks still stand and you can walk along the bottom of the canal.

But there's another way to wonder at the charming old world of this part of the city. 

I had been intrigued by the little restaurant with the whiteboard menu and the dazzling chandeliers for quite some time but we had always been on our way to somewhere else whenever we walked past.

One evening, with nothing to do and feeling too lazy to cook, we decided to take a stroll down there and have a look at what was on offer.

Of course I was instantly awe-struck by the mirrored panels, dazzling green walls and smooth wooden and metal fittings. Just on appearance alone, it would be the perfect place to slip back in time to after an afternoon peruse around Villa Necchi Campiglio (from this post).

Dinner at Gatsby's, anyone?

I couldn't quite understand why the restaurant was so deserted on a Friday night. We went at the beginning of July when the city was still bustling with people. Whilst the decor might be rich and extravagant, the menu is astoundingly affordable.

And they brought us a little appetiser before we'd even closed our menus. I can never say no to free nibbles.

We shared the asparagus risotto to start and as such, the very kind waiter brought us an extra large portion (I ate far more than my fair share!)

Next it was tartare all around; classic beef for my love and salmon with citrus fruits for me.

The salmon was absolutely beautiful; deliciously fresh with a light yet creamy flavour that matched the orange and grapefruit perfectly.

We polished the lot off within minutes.

But I always have room for dessert, don't you?

I usually pass on chocolate desserts when I'm out as I'm a bit of a chocolate snob and when the cocoa content dips below a certain percentage... well, I'm not a happy bunny. 

But the chocolate torte here was described as having a salted crust and after the salted chocolate/caramel craze, I couldn't resist getting stuck in to more salty/sweet goodness. 

I was not disappointed.

Quite honestly one of the most fantastic chocolate desserts I have ever tasted. And that is a high accolade coming from me!

Outside the quickly fading day shrank into shadows and with the help of a bit of vino, I began to feel as if I truly had been transported back in time, to a city before cars were the supposed right of everyone and the evening was reserved for post-dinner strolls rather than TV marathons.

It's hard not to feel like you're in a decade gone-by with surroundings like that.

Dinner for two (cover charge, water, wine, one risotto, two tartares and two desserts) hit the €70 mark and the service was prompt, friendly and sure to lure me back again. The restaurant is closed throughout August but once the city kicks back to life in September, it's a must for any traveller looking to capture the essence of old Milan on a budget.