relatively-quick and decent italian at kings cross st. pancras. we hopped off the eurostar famished and with a need for some proper nourishment, and a quick google turned up either le pain quotidien or this place for proper food – and so my bread-wary parents opted for carluccio’s. they have a pretty interesting menu – full of classics but also with a few neat surprises, and the cooking here is in general rather on the positive side of average.
I’ve said this before, but I’m pretty partial to the mid-range restaurants like this one, strada, byron or ASK, which abound in london and fulfill your expectations of a decent meal with just a bit more cash than going to the pub. carluccio’s falls on the higher end (price-wise) of this category, and also seems to have higher pedigree in that their namesake is a renowned italian chef based in london.
we started off with fritto misto, an acceptable rendition of a jamboree of fried seafood. the batter was well-seasoned, and there was a mix including calamari, whitebait and prawns. it also came with a garlic aioli that was a bit meh – I opted to ask for ketchup. just by the by while we’re talking about ketchup, do you realise that we’re now made to feel almost ashamed when we ask for ketchup or any sort of seasoning in any restaurant? I happen to think it’s bollocks, and carluccio’s doesn’t even have ketchup on hand; they offered us a sort of salsa that we accepted, and which was tasty and also contributed far more to the enjoyment of the frittos.
the mains around the table included a ribeye steak, penne with some tomatoey-sausaage sauce, some sides of green beans and mash, as well as my order of chicken salad with hazelnuts, prunes, green beans and mixed leaves in a balsamic dressing. the steak was alright if nothing spectacular, the penne satisfying, and my chicken salad I found pretty interesting – I have never come across this mix before and I dearly love prunes, so it all worked for me. I have to say the sides let us down a little though: the beans were a tad too oily and the mash a little too dry (which you can probably see from the photos).
generous portions and rather friendly service, as well as a pretty cafe with italian deli items and sweet treats laid out. not a bad place to stop for lunch and get good hunger-satisfying food, but if I were to compare strada, ASK and carluccio’s (since they all fall within the same restaurant category in my head) then I would avoid strada and head to ASK for regular meals, and occasionally to carluccio’s if I wanted something a little more refined.