San Carlo, Temple Street

Sadly, it’s not the norm to go out for lunch on a wet Wednesday in Birmingham and be greeted by a full, lively restaurant. Pleasingly it turns out San Carlo hadn’t got the memo.

We arrived to a joyful hubbub, lots of chatter and much laughter. Kicking off with the customary glass of prosecco – when in Rome and all that – we nibbled a bowl of plump green olives and a basket of Italian bread with a tangy sundried tomato paste and a rich olive tapenade. A nice start.

There are some dishes new for summer (ha), one of which blew our socks off – carpaccio of tuna. Wafer thin sashimi grade tuna with a zingy sesame and lime dressing, capers and chunks of sweet orange was delightful. Then an old favourite, a comforting spaghetti carbonara. A bowlful of smoky, cheesy, unctuous loveliness. What’s not to love?

A gnocchetti pasta melanzane e salsiccia – Sardinian style pasta (shaped like gnocchi hence the name) with an aubergine and sausage ragu was delicious. The sauce was a rich tomato number with a big hit of fennel coming from the sausage. We loved it but accept it’s an acquired taste. It was a mammoth portion that could have fed the entire table but apart from that, it was a cracking dish.

We were piggy and shared a dessert. A mint tea or a digestiv would have been a better idea given the amount of food we’d eaten, but a millfoglie was winking. The Italian version of millefeuille, crisp puff pastry with a simple vanilla laced Chantilly cream. It was tasty and pleasing to finish with something sweet but not wow inducing.

We hadn’t been to San Carlo for years before this visit – certainly pre-pandemic and we’d forgotten how well they do this restaurant stuff. They would, wouldn’t they? Charming staff, no nonsense tasty food, good vibes and a great wine list – simple.

SAN CARLO, TEMPLE ST, BIRMINGHAM B2 5BN tel: 0121 633 0251