It was exactly what mama ordered; an evening dedicated to good food, drink and excellent company.The drinks were poured with gusto and aplomb, while the buzz of the nearby customers, who spoke in animated tones, added a liveliness to Carluccios Spitafield, from the moment that we had walked in. The air was bitter outside, but despite the weather our hearts were warmed by delicious food, that wafted under our noses like an aphrodisiac drug. The restaurant smelled like fresh baked bread and while the decor was simple, it was authentically Italian. Rustic wooden beams juxtaposed with modern booths and tables, that looked out onto Spitafields market, as we people watched from the comfort of our table. Drinks were served first, cocktails on ice, laced with fruit. A Malfy Cooler and a mojito, off the menu, raspberry delight, tickled with spice. The light was fading as the sky changed from a cloudless grey into a navy midnight blue, and we awaited the arrival of our starters, with a great rumbling in our stomachs. A fresh bread basket with pots of butter, balsamic vinegar and olive oil three, made their way to our table, freshly baked, like old times.
Foccacia, sourdough, seeded brown bread dipped in sauce, but it was our starters that claimed our hearts anew. Pasta a Fagioli, A thick soup of pasta, creamy borlotti beans and tomato, reminded me of the ‘soups’ my grandma used to make. I forgot the blustering winds that were gathering outside and in one moment they were gone, as I lost myself in a hearty Italian dish, that put warmth back into my soul. A fish and meat eater was my friend, delectable crispy calamari was her starter choice of the day. Lemon mayonnaise, on crunchy fish batter, with a pop and crunch her fish had melted in her mouth. Together we tucked in greedily into our bread basket, while we scoured the menu for the meals that would become our main courses, to parry with our starters. We ummed and ahh’d, I a ‘Libra’, indecisive and unsure, flicking between one main and the next, unsure of what to get, when it all sounded so delicious. In the end our minds had been made up, a gluten free carbonara for A and a Tortellini de Zucca for me. Mine was first to arrive, mouthwatering parcels of butternut squash and cheese, served with sage and butter sauce. It was creamy, it was sweet and it was utterly delectable. In three words, bliss had come and served me a vegetarian selection of dishes that did not lack flavour.
There were no boring, uninspired pasta arribiata’s served with wilting spinach, nor were vegans without choice either. Regardless of dietary requirements there was something for everyone and as our stomachs swelled with food, we sighed deliciously. Could we fit in dessert at Carluccios?The answer was an unresounding yes; our drinks were all but gone, while our leftovers were scooped into doggy bags to take home, a memento of our time at Carluccios. But what would we have that could compete with the strength of the two dishes beforehand, when the Pasta A Fagioli and Tortellini de Zucca, had sent me into rapturous overdose? We washed our mouths with lemon and ice, refreshed our senses, we had come to a decision and our desserts were ready to take centre stage. I was once a tiramisu only girl, in love with its decadent chocolate and coffee layers but I decided to try something new and step out of my comfort zone, it was red and white, berries and meringues. An Italian version of an Eton Mess arrived in a small tumbler; a meringue with a passion fruit cream, fresh raspberries and a raspberry coulis. It was colourful but would the colours match its zany personality?
The crunch crunch of the sugary meringue snapped in my mouth, creamed to perfection, with a hint of tropical delight, but it was A’s ‘Affogato with decaf coffee poured over vanilla ice cream that captured my senses. The ice cream felt smooth and cold against my tickled throat, while the coffee was strong but beautifully condensed by the ice cream that was melting ever so pleasantly in our mouths. Despite the cold weather outside, our desserts were still a perfect fit and a welcome symphony of flavours to signal the end of a beautiful evening. The skies had darkened further and navy blue became midnight black, and the hum drum bustle of the work crowd had slowed to a halt. The spaces were filling in the restaurant as couples wined and dined and friends joked and laughed but it was time for us to go, with our doggy bags in tow. Red and blue, we marched into the night, my red kimono flapping in the wind and A’s blue denim jeans, cropped. The rain was gently falling, as we left Carluccios but our hearts had been warmed and as I opened the door to my room, I turned and smiled. Today has been a good night, I wonder what tomorrow would bring…
Have You Ever Tried Carluccios Before? What Is Your Favourite Italian Dish?
Please note we were given complimentary food and drink in exchange for this post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by complimentary services .