We love Italian food and hospitality as much as the next person, so why this was our first trip to this Jewellery Quarter institution, we have no clue.
We’ve walked passed the pretty restaurant and been wowed by its kerb appeal a thousand of times, always vowing to try it. Better late than never.
It’s a big old beast of a dining room packed with rustic charm and busy for the dreaded graveyard shift – Monday lunch. People were settled into cosy corners nattering as though they were regulars and the vibe was happy and lively. We were promised ‘authentic Italian food in relaxed surroundings’. Happy days.
The menu was so massive we needed a glass of fizz to digest it. It’s worth noting the choice of Champagne by the glass was zero so we had to settle for a bottle. First world problems and all that.
A prawn and avocado starter (£8.50) with a punchy Marie Rose did what it said on the tin. It was light, fresh and perfectly good with a pleasing amount of prawns. Baked goat’s cheese with grilled courgette and peppers (£6.95) was served in the dish it was baked in and remained hotter than the sun well after friends had polished off their food. Staff were attentive and friendly tackling some odd requests from our table – not by me by the way.
One of our favourites, calves liver (£18.50) was perfectly pink and delicious, however it was atop a mound of mashed potato the size of the Big Peg which was a bit unappealing. A fillet steak (£23.50) requested medium rare was grey throughout, but the flavour was good and the sauce tasty. Ravioli filled generously with crab in a rich lobster bisque (£14) was excellent, but again we felt the presentation could have been a bit more exciting and creative.
Certainly the place is full of rustic charm which we loved – we actually had loads of fun – and the food on the whole tasted great. It isn’t cheap, though, and we’d much rather pay a bit less for neater portions and considered presentation. There’s rustic and then there’s careless and we felt it was teetering on the cusp of the latter.