The Italian job

Holly Heywood enjoys an evening at Carluccio’s.

On a chilly winter evening, when the end of the working week is nowhere in sight, there’s something incredibly reassuring about settling down to a meal at Carluccio’s in Solihull. The warmth of summer may be gone, but there’s enough of a glow here to make even summer favourites seem a perfect choice.

After picking our way through some deliciously herby olives, I headed for the tuna tartare: rich, studded with spring onions and capers and soft with avocado. Seldom has something so good for you tasted so…good. My dining companion encountered the antipasti board, which offered up surprise after surprise. When he thought he had found everything from olives to salami, parma ham, mozzarella, olives, capaccio, grissini and tomatoes, there were more flavours to come with courgettes and prawns, roasted peppers and pesto. In short, if your taste buds would welcome a wake up call, this is it.

For my main, I chose the sirloin steak, which came with potatoes and rocket. It was simply delicious, and thr crisp tenderstem broccoli I ordered as a side was the perfect partner with chilli and garlic. My partner chose the chicken saltimbocca, stuffed with parma ham, topped with sage and a white wine sauce. With rocket and pesto, this was another dish that packed in the flavours.

As an aside, if you have food allergies, I have always found Carluccio’s to be reliable. My gluten and dairy allergies were managed easily and efficiently, and I found plenty of choice on the menu.

Only one of us managed to squeeze in dessert, that being a chocolate bread and butter pudding, served with vanilla ice cream. A twist on the British classic pud, mixing croissant and chocolate pieces, this drew the only ‘complaint’ of the evening – my companion’s usual bemoaning that there wasn’t enough. Coffee was smooth and delicious: another example of getting the simple things so very right. Service was timely and personable, and everyone out on the cold windy night seemed to be having a great time. We can certainly recommend the restorative power of dinner here.

We dined as guests of Carluccio’s. Opinions are as always our own.