Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Carluccio's - Leeds

Please note this establishment has now closed but you can still find them in Trinity Leeds. 

Bank Holiday Monday wandering around the damp streets of Leeds trying to find somewhere to eat for a late (taking over the shell of quid pro quo).

Carluccio's is an Italian restaurant. It's manifesto is to provide great quality authentic reasonably priced food at reasonable prices. If you're thinking that you recognise that name... Antonio Carluccio began this chain of restaurants in 1999. (Antonio Carluccio just to jog your memories is one half of the two greedy Italians, and often appears on Saturday morning kitchen).

Anyway back to my original purpose... but first a little disclosure, this 'critique' only applies to my experience at this restaurant yours may be very different!

We wandered in to the restaurant, which is divided in to two sections; the restaurant and the deli store. A guy putting out plates of cakes noticed us immediately and said hi; continued to put out his cakes and retreat back. So we were left floating hoping someone would tell us to go take a seat and or guide us to our seats.. another person said hello to us before we started moving towards the tables and we were approached by a waiter. We were allowed to choose our own seats and handed menus, and pointed towards the specials menu beside us.

The waitress approached us immediately asking for our drinks order.. two minutes would have been nice to look at the menu.  

We eventually settled on antipasto massimo to share (for two) for starters,  Penne alla Luganica (pasta tubes with a spicy sausage and tomato sauce) for me, and Fettucce Con Ragu Di Cinghiale for my partner (egg pasta ribbons with wild boar ragu). A glass of white wine, fresh lemon juice (they don't have lemonade) and two glasses of tap water with a slice of lemon (as they don't do jugs but will fill up your glass for you as much as you need). Credit is due to the waitress as she pronounced the names we couldn't. 

It took about 10 minutes for our drinks to arrive to our table, despite me being able to see them sat on the bar waiting for us. When they did arrive the slice of lemon was missing from our tap water. 

The restaurant was pretty quiet with about 15 people dining, very light airy and spacious. The decor was plain and minimalistic, the only ornaments were the produce which you can buy from the deli. 

The antipasto was quite large and we ended up pushing two tables together so we could spread out a bit. It was served upon a black piece of slate. There were three types of sausage meat, one was a bit salty for my palate,and stuffed chicken (not sure what it was stuffed with but it was very nice). We had four generous pieces of Foccacia (Italian bread) which was slightly warm and not dry at all. There were two small balls of mozzarella which was really tasty so I would have loved it if there was more. There was an assortment of peppers and olives and fluffed out with rocket.

An hour and twenty minutes after arriving in the restaurant we had our mains, the waitress apologised briefly, but only after noticing our wandering looks after all the food being served to other tables. No explanation was offered as to why our food was taking so long. Whilst we sat and waited we also noted that the two tables next to us were repeatedly asked by different waiters and waitresses for their orders even though they had already been taken...

My pasta arrived and it was more pasta than sauce, I was also hoping for some chunks of spicy sausage to give it a bit of bite. The sauce was more like bolognese but with a spicy kick. By the time I had finished my pasta it was cold as it wasn't boiling hot to begin with.

My fellow diners pasta arrived at the same time, they were also hoping for a bit of bite in their meal but again struggled to find anything other than mince.

Both meals were filling and we were offered as much parmesan and black pepper as we needed.

When the waitress came over to collect our plates and asked how our meal was, we mentioned that the pasta began to get cold as I finished my meal, and the waitress wasn't quite sure how to act. We made sure to tell her that we weren't complaining we just wanted to raise the issue. She then stumbled over her words and mumbled something about the manager.

A few minutes later the manager arrived and we explained once again that we didn't wish to complain but to only point out that my pasta had begun to get cold half way through eating it. The manager was very polite and sat down on our level (none of that peering down at you as if you have done something wrong malarkey).The manager accepted our comments and was glad to take our feedback, as the restaurant has only been open 3 months and he would make sure it was fed back to the head chef. The manager persuaded us to have a dessert as a consolation for my main, we chose to share a Panna Cotta.

The Panna Cotta arrived very speedily and was served to us by the embarrassed waitress. I am not an expert on Panna Cotta as it is not something I eat very often but it was very tasty and creamy.

We left a 10% tip and thanked the manager for his graciousness as we left.


Food ***
Value ***
Service ***
Atmosphere **
Cleanliness *****

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