Usually nothing can drag me out of bed before noon on a weekend but circumstances called for an early morning meet up with the girls in Kingston a few weekends ago. Given that choices are limited at that time of the day - Carluccio's definitely won over greasy spoon cafes and McDonald's. Carluccio's with its fill of yummy daddies and mummies playing happy families and older folk with their copies of Daily Mail, Telegraph and maybe on occasion the sneaky copy of the The Sun (purely for the sports section mind you).
Having browsed the menu online the day before (always better prepared) I had my heart set on the Colazione Magnifica (£8.95) for no other reason than that was the heartiest item listed (with a choice of juice and coffee/tea included with the price - bargain!). I got a very nice glass of freshly squeezed (it does make all the difference, doesn't it?) orange juice and a latte. The water was brought over on request by one of the other girls which I probably drank a little grudgingly. More liquids means less food space!
My scrambled eggs, grilled pancetta, sautéed mushrooms and half a grilled tomato came piled on a slice of toasted Italian bread - not quite sure what exactly Italian bread is but at Carluccio's it sure is tough and chewy. Everything else tasted fine - the eggs were done nicely with the right amount of fluffiness and left just a tad bit runny.
JN's order of Uova E Funghi (£6.25) - scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms on toast. Pretty much the same as mine but without the pancetta, tomato, orange juice, coffee .....
The others opted for eggs benedict (£7.50) with Italian roast ham. The hollandaise appeared in an over-enthusiastic shade of yellow and smelled like it had come in contact with a heavy hand of vinegar. It tasted like it looked - off-putting. Claggy, sharp and in good need of seasoning. I was personally unimpressed and the dish won no points despite the eggs very prettily cooked.
Being the piggies that we were (are) we ordered another round of carbs after polishing off our mains - a Breakfast Bread Tin (£3.95) and almond croissants (pastries from £1.40) to share. The bread tin consisted of one very good looking croissant (in golden brown perfection), more Italian bread (untoasted this time, which surprisingly tasted a lot nicer than its toasted counterpart), butter and fig jam (ergh!).
We got in a few good hours of natter and noshing before it became distinctly obvious we had overstayed our visit. The breakfast menu was cleared off the tables and the happy families munching on Danish pastries were replaced by hungry families queuing up for their midday fill of risotto and raviolli. All this and it was only just gone twelve. I must say it was weird to have done so much (eaten so much ... I should rephrase) by noon on a non-working day and still have a whole day ahead of me. I should do this more often .... I will keep reminding myself that ... I will ... I will ... zzz ...
Carluccio's 2 Jerome Place, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HT
I made Justine history today .... my first ever trip to Havester! SM and I have been joking about having a meal at one for ages now but you know how silly jokes can go ... it's never actually supposed to take place. Having egged each other on one too many times, we finally drove to the one closest to the flat. I have to admit I was grining like a Chesire cat all the way from the car to the restaurant and even insisted on having my photo taken outside. Embarassingly I did the same thing when I visited my first ever WalMart in Canada. Yes.... seriously!
I was allowed to order from the 'All Day Early Bird' (go figure!) section of the menu - SM's shout so SM gets to give the orders - and I got the rib and chicken combo. A rack of ribs smothered in BBQ sauce, quarter of a roast chicken ...... AND all the salad I could eat from the bar. Exciting stuff. The ribs were surprisingly fall off the bone tender - I did wonder if it had been boiled to death and then slapped on the grill for 2 minutes but seriously for that price (£6.99) ... who cares. It tasted good. The chicken on the other hand didn't fare so well. Dry and overcooked. Blegh. And despite my best intentions I only managed 2 pathetic trips to the salad bar. I did, however, discover the joys of eating raw cauliflower. I'm not usually a big fan of cauliflower (the poor, poor cousin of the magnificent brocolli - in my opinion anyway) but thinly sliced and covered in coronation dressing it's surprisingly good.
SM's Chicken and Bacon Stack (£6.99) was also rather tasty - grilled chicken breast topped with sweetcured bacon and Emmantal cheese in a puddle of BBQ sauce. The chicken was tasty and tender and can do almost no wrong since it was covered in BBQ sauce. Yum yum yum!
It's a fun and silly place to go where the prices are cheap and you don't expect too much. Cheap and cheerful is just what we all need sometimes.
A Malaysian foodie at heart, I now live in London where, after eight years, I am still trying to come to terms with the four changing seasons. Although far from home there is never short of good food to be salivated over!Email me at email@example.com