Bardolino, The Cube

In the heart of school holiday territory with tans fading and tethers ending I took the brood to Marco Pierre White’s latest offering, ‘ultra-casual’ canal-side Bardolino in the hope of regrouping.

Located in the Clubandspa’s old restaurant space it’s a bit of a departure. Whitewashed walls have given way to living herbs in wooden boxes, shelves full of top-notch Italian produce and chunky wooden tables on which sits good quality olive oil and balsamic as standard. The other half ordered a Bellini pronto. Must have been the prospect of lunch with the famiglia. Simple and confident, I liked the menu a lot. Apparently there were many versions of the menu before this succinct little number was agreed on, some including steaks and burgers which would’ve been a mistake in my view. It’s a list full of authentic homemade Italian fare with much to admire. No place for burgers.

FLAVOURS OF THE MED

We enjoyed the Monte Cristo starter for two consisting of focaccia, smashed avocado, caponata, tomato bruschetta, mozzarella and Zarpellon (Italian hard cheese to you and me). The wooden board was heaving with flavours of the Med and looked a picture. Caponata was fresh and fantastically moreish with warm salty focaccia. Smashed avocado and mozzarella did what they said on the tin and the bruschetta was a winner. The kids loved it too. There’s no getting away from the fact it was salty, but I reckon that’s because I’m neurotic about it at home. Every bit of the board was utterly delicious and the salt didn’t matter because I didn’t do it, so it didn’t count! The children’s menu was a steal at £5.50 for two courses and £3.95 for one. Full of choices the little ones and I approved of, it was a rare thing. Predictably they enjoyed macaroni cheese which was served in cute cast iron ramekins. A couple of shakes (chocolate and raspberry) put me in the running for mum of the year. Regrouping was going well. Three chunky meatballs in a punchy Napoletana sauce served with garlic ciabatta went down a treat while the stone-baked Florentina pizza was a winner. The base was perfect and the egg surrounded by spinach and cheese was still oozing and unctuous. It was a bit of a carb-fest although there was a lot of choice for the virtuous too. The superfood salad in particular sounded brilliant. We swerved dessert, but were tipped the wink that the tiramisu is to die for. Next time.

BARDOLINO The Cube, Birmingham, B1 1RN. Tel: 0121 634 3433 http://mpwrestaurants.com