Friday 4 July 2008

Late Sunday Lunch at Carluccio's, Manchester

I've felt faintly guilty that since I changed the name of this relatively new blog to reflect my passion for food, I've made not one single foodie post.....and that includes all of the delicious food we ate in Japan.

So I'm starting now, but not with Japan!

We were away for the weekend in Morecambe for a wedding at the newly refurbished and restored Midland Hotel and by the time we arrived back in Manchester the afternoon after the main event, we were famished and I knew that there was nothing at all in the fridge to make a meal with - and when I say that, there really isn't as I am the self-confessed queen of making a meal out of nothing. We decided to go to our favourite Indian cafe, Al Faisal's for some of their delicious chicken tikka and the usual accompaniments of chick peas, rice, salad and some grilled minced lamb, but that area of town is currently in disarray due to the roads being dug up. By the time the traffic let us through, the shutters had just gone down. So we had to start again in our aim to eat. Carluccio's was our next prospect and we planned to meet our chum Adam there to have a gossip. Eventually we arrived about an hour after arriving in Manchester and we were suitably famished.

I've a funny relationship with Carluccio's, I think the stuff they sell in the shop is really good and great quality adn their deli counter is wonderful, but I'm always somewhat dissapointed with the menu, I've never quite put my finger on it, but that's the way it is.

Peter and I ordered the following to share as a starter:

Antipasto di Verdure £9.95

Roasted halved peppers filled with pesto, fresh green bean salad with mint, caponata, oven-roasted tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella.

It was mostly very nice, the caponata was deliciously rich, the pesto in the peppers was lovely (Carluccio's pesto is the only shop bought one I ever buy, it's really very good indeed), the green beans were a bit of a non event with tasteless mint, there were a few massive caperberries which is always a good thing and some very nice olives. Served with two dry slices of ciabatta. It was a just what we wanted and fairly filling.

It's the main course I have trouble chosing at these restaurants, I often find the pasta dishes dull and tastless, the risottos are generally okay but far to big, rich and calorific for my liking, so I often rely on the specials as I did on this occasion.

Saltimbocca di Pollo £9.95
Chicken Breast Wrapped in Parma Ham served with Pesto Potatoes and Rocket.

I really don't like Parma ham but I decided no to ask them to cook the dish without as I really wasn't in the mood for a battle and I suspect that they wouldn't have done it very graciously so I just hoped that it would taste like bacon. It didn't taste like bacon, but had the very piggy taste I dislike about so many 'premium' hams, but it didn't really spoil the dish for me as the chicken was very good. Tender, tasty and plentiful served with perfectly cooked waxy potatoes with just a hint of pesto - I'd have liked more of that but then I can eat vast amounts of the green goo. The hot, wilted rocket was a surprise as I had been expecting a salad, it was much better than a salad as it soaked up the very abundant winey, buttery sauce very well indeed.

Overall it was a good meal when we were really in need of one, satisfying, pretty enough for me to want to take photos of it, reasonably priced and we'll inevitably go back as it's on our local circuit. Oh, the service was nice and relaxed and friendly too.

3 Hardman Square,
M3 3EB
Tel. 0161 839 0623

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