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Carluccio’s signature blue & white awnings have been brightening up high streets (& boosting house prices) since 1999. These classy-looking caffè/delis are places to use rather than adore,
whether for a mid-shopping pit stop or for an impromptu lunch with pals or family. Open all day, they’re a good shout for a pick-me-up espresso or Prosecco (depending how the day’s going). The
mid-priced food is ‘reasonably good’ rather than stupendously so, but the chattering classes still pile in for their fix of Puglian olives, wild boar ragù, pasta alla puttanesca & osso bucco
milanese. ‘Stick to the simpler stuff’, advises one regular. The produce in the shop is rather more drool-worthy: ‘I would refuse to leave without making a purchase from the deli’, insists one fan.
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29 June 2014
Much of our eating out in London is in places with a higher culinary reputation – and a higher price tag. But we think this is maybe the best of the “chains” and sometimes we ( and our wallets) need a bit of a change in pace. We have a way of managing these places- get there early to avoid the crowds, and stick to the starters and pastas which they do decently well, avoiding the more ambitious -and more expensive – mains that have tended to disappoint whenever we've tried them. If we want to eat more complex food, we need to be somewhere else.
So for me yesterday's special pea and mint soup with a drizzle of walnut pesto, and a main of a Tortelloni stuffed with a wine-braised Venison were right in the target zone and indeed both courses were tasty and served just right. Service was timely and pleasant, and it wasn't so busy that we felt we were shoulder to shoulder. Our bottle of Montepulciano from the lower part of the list was enjoyable and light enough for lunch, though we should learn that a bottle for a meal lasting under the hour is probably a bit much for us. So, all good
Except a small proportion of the other customers. Far too many kids whose parents seem to feel no responsibility whatsoever to maintain a decent behaviour profile and noise level. No sense that they might owe other diners the opportunity to enjoy their meals in an environment they find comfortable. Too many kids who seem to equate a restaurant with a playground whilst parents ignore them. It does detract a lot from the restaurant experience, and Carluccio's ( like the other chains we've seen) do absolutely nothing but smile indulgently. Its a situation that needs managing, for certainly our visit frequency ( and that of others we know) is less than it could be. They could decide to divide the restaurants into “child” and “adult” zones. They could insist that parents control their kids rather than chatting amongst themselves and ignoring their offspring. But right now they do nothing, and we're left to take it or leave it.
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