It’s all change at Carluccio’s Richmond
I’d heard that to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Carluccio’s had ‘reimagined’ the Richmond branch, so of course, I had to check it out. The interior is now much warmer, and far more welcoming (I always felt it was rather stark before). Soft upholstery and darker walls, with nice artwork, add sophistication and warmth to the interior... but what about the new food menu?
Fear not, the 20th Anniversary menu is a stonker! And they’ve introduced the set menu at the Richmond branch, available every day from 12-7 at £12.95 for three courses. Judging by how busy it was for lunch this week, the word is fast getting around. My husband chose from the set menu. He started with mushroom and kale bruschetta and I, who can’t resist it, had burrata, (served with pea purée and mint - which sounded interesting). The bruschetta looked fab and was a very generous portion. The small taste I managed to steal was rich with garlic and packed with all manner of mushrooms and a hint of chilli. My burrata was divine – simple, yet so effectively delicious and a great example of the late, great, Antonio Carluccio’s motto: MOF MOF (minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour).
My husband chose Penne alla Puttanesca for his main course and to quote him ‘if you’re going out for pasta, it needs to be much, much better than you can cook at home’. It was. It was packed with olives, capers, and anchovies and the spicy sauce-to-pasta ratio was perfect. My cod with lentils was good but slightly disappointing as it arrived with lots of chunks of potato in with the lentils, which weren’t mentioned on the menu and, in my opinion, were totally superfluous to the dish.
Glasses of house wine each, and a carafe of tap water, (infused with an elegant ribbon of cucumber) were the perfect lunchtime drinks to accompany our meal. We had just enough room to try the desserts on offer – from the set menu the chocolate bread and butter pudding, and from the new dessert menu, poached pear, a ‘heritage’ dish. The pear was beautifully cooked, and the sauce lightly seasoned with strips of orange zest and a cinnamon stick. It was accompanied by vanilla mascarpone, but to be honest that wasn’t necessary. The chocolate bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream was rich, and again a very generous portion served just warm enough for the chocolate to melt.
After a cup of lovely coffee (Milano blend, exclusively blended for Carluccio’s - and sold in the deli) we reluctantly headed home.