We’d been a couple of times in the summer as it is lovely to sit outside in the square basking in the sunshine and watching the world go by. It gets very busy at lunchtime so we decided to book a table (inside this time naturally, given the inclement weather of late) we requested a booth as they are more comfortable and, from which, one can see the whole bustling room.
The waiting staff and management were welcoming, charming and knowledgeable, always a good start. My friend and I were nattering away for quite a while before we ordered but we weren’t hassled; they were attentive but not over-bearing. (I’m not sure about being called ‘baby’ though, a little patronising, although I’m sure he was just trying to be friendly.)
Eventually, we ordered Osso buco alla Milanese £13.95 (braised shin of veal with tomato sauce, served with a creamy saffron risotto) and Penne Giardiniera £7.95 (large Penne with courgette, chilli, and deep-fried spinach balls with Parmesan and garlic) from the extensive menu of Italian classics. Carluccios_Autumn_Menu_2010_2.pdf
The food came out reasonably quickly but as my friend and I were chatting we didn’t notice the wait. The pasta dish was huge, colourful and smelled satisfyingly garlicy. The osso buco in comparison looked a bit on the mean side with the unnecessary parsley leaf lying on top. As the name suggests (osso buco meaning ‘hollow bone’), it came complete with soft and rich bone marrow, which was delicious, almost to the point of being orgasmic, and the meat was tender, how it should be. I’m not sure about the inclusion of so many tomatoes in the sauce, a controversial subject, I personally feel they slightly overpower the delicate flavours in the dish. The risotto was smooth and creamy with a subtle saffron flavour and colour. Both could have done with a little more salt, in my opinion. The pasta dish was simple but packed with flavour. The finely chopped chilli gave a little kick without being too hot, there was a lot of garlic (which I love), and the spinach balls were a crispy contrast to the soft, buttery grated courgette. The waiter sprinkled freshly-grated Parmesan and freshly-ground black pepper to taste, (whilst calling me ‘baby’ again!).
My friend then ordered a lemon tart and a coffee. She is quite a coffee enthusiast (I am not) and assured me that they make a good one. I tasted the lemon tart (purely for research as I was full) and found that it was adequate; tangy filling with a silky texture but the pastry was just fine, not exemplary (I had the feeling it wasn’t homemade, sorry if I’m wrong). A refreshing end to the meal nonetheless.
In summary; a friendly, relaxed environment for a good value, well-cooked, tasty lunch. I will definately return (if they’ll have me!).
See http://www.carluccios.com/caffes/bristol-quakers-friars for contact/booking info, Christmas menu and opening times.
They also have a varied deli section and sell Italian foodie gifts.
10% off all Christmas products on Thursday 2nd and Thursday 9th December from 6pm-9pm.