Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Urban Umbria: Carluccio's Restaurant

In this city, whatever the weather, we complain about the weather. What I enjoy is the complaining about the complaining. Complaining twice removed. We’ve complained about the rain. Now, we complain about the heat. Then, we complain about the complaining. “When do we not complain?” the British complain. “We always complain. We’re British”, the British explain. I did not intend to mention the complaining or the complainers. Oh...

I did intend to mention this wonderfully weird weather. There is no such thing as bad weather. There is only an attitude. As with all aspects of life, attitude will dictate whether something is good or bad. Each and every second, our opinionated minds get their opportunity to etch an attitude upon the blank, virgin canvas of experience. Therefore, in my opinion, weather, even British weather, is always subjective.  

Objectively, it has been hot. It is thirty degrees this evening in Hyde Park. Summer hangs thick in the air. Knightsbridge feels even more Qatari than ever. People drifting strolling, heavily and lazily, uncomfortably, this way and that, fanning, sweating thickly. That burqa looks a bit of a ball ache. It looks bloody boiling under there. Or, at least it looks more boiling than if you were to wear the same piece of material as one of these cool maxi dresses that Poppy is wearing.

We’re reclining. Not uncomfortably, very pleasantly actually in a relatively quiet corner of one of the busiest parks on the planet. We are reclining because we have just had a late lunch with drink at Carluccio's in South Kensington. A holiday day in London meant a lie in and a museum. It was OK but warm. I remember dinosaurs being cooler. By the time we'd learnt of the death of the dodo we were in danger of learning of the death of a group of children and their sweating mothers. It was time to leave the education and go in search of rehydration before I extinct-uished one of the adorable children. Combine London with heat and you often get sweat and stress.

We lolled as slowly as possible past the excellent early morning Pain Quotidian and the fun late night Brindisa. I had my mind and stomach set on something light and chilled that I knew a fat, sweaty, Italian man could provide.

I’m a fan of Mr Carluccio and Carluccio’s. In spite of the ever expanding waistline and empire, he and it have never let me down for quality and value. The restaurant chain is how Italian should be in a very London way. Clean. Cheap. Quick. Slick. Smart yet very relaxed. And it can also be used at absolutely any time of day. So, at tea time, it was more than happy to accommodate us for a coffee, an ice cream or a plate of pasta. We had all three.

Arriving at 16:30 we had ordered drinks by 16:31 and we were drinking cold Peroni and cold, cold water by 16:32. The Menu Fisso is such good value that to order it alongside the top quality Antipasto provides a mighty meal at an exceptionally good price. I had the pâté followed by the ravioli which were both exactly what I expected and wanted. The pasta at Carluccio’s is always very, very good. It is better than most more authentic Italians. I assume that quality of pasta should be a yardstick (breadstick?) by which an Italian restaurant is measured seeing as they, the Italians, as a nation, are quite keen on it. If you agree, then go to Carluccio’s and eat pasta. Poppy had bruschetta and a penne dish which, again, was exactly what was wanted and they were very good. No frills, no thrills but quality and exactly how good value Italian should be.

Cold sorbets, cooled coffees and £45 later we were both revived and refreshed and ready to face the steamy Arabian eve once again. I can recommend better Italian restaurants. It wouldn’t cater for my last meal. However, if forced to choose my keeper from all of the high-end high-street restaurant chains, it might just be the one that I would save. It is great value, always. It is great quality, always. And, thankfully, it is always perfectly chilled.


No comments:

Post a Comment