Last week I was invited to head to the recently refurbished Carluccio’s in Brindley Place, Birmingham, to try their new menu and a 360 experience.
Curious to see what the 360 experience was, and to try the menu I headed down with Chris to find out more. Now, I don’t know why, but I’ve never actually eaten at Carluccio’s before so I can’t compare the new menu with their old, or comment on whether the refurb is good.
Going in blind, we were warmly greeted by the staff, honestly they are so nice and would literally do anything for you, constantly asking us if we wanted more drinks and if the food was okay. We were meant to be on No Drink November, but once we were offered a Lemon Spritz (Limoncello, Prosecco & Soda) it was suddenly forgotten. You can’t turn down free alcohol, right?
So on to the food. For appetizers there was a selection of cured meats, olives and other nibbles to try. The cured meats were absolutely amazing, some of the best I have had in the UK, and instantly transported me back to sitting in an Italian villa lunching on meats and bread. Yum.
For starters we tried two dishes; traditional Sicilian Aranchini (one stuffed with mozzarella and basil, and one with a meat ragu) and Crab Macaroni. I really thought the Aranchini would be my favourite here, and they were delicious, but the Crab Macaroni Cheese really stole the show for me, and was probably my favourite dish of the whole night. Wonderfully creamy, the crab gave it a lovely flavour without being too strong.
On to the mains, this is where my favourite wines come in. The red (Barbara 'Briccotondo', Fontanafredda) that went with the Duck Pasta was incredible. You wouldn’t want a lot of it, but it did compliment the dish really well. The duck pasta was Chris’ favourite from the evening, however I felt the duck flavour didn’t come through enough and the pork overpowered it. The White (La Segreta Bianco) that went with the Carbonara was also amazing, and something I would definitely order in the future. Talking about the carbonara, the bacon in it was made using guanciale and was SO GOOD. It has a smoky flavour and was cooked to be just crispy.
By this time we were both suitable stuffed, but dessert was bought out and I just about managed it. Oh boy, I’m glad I did. I’m not a massive fan of chocolate cake, but the Chocolate Rum Fudge cake they put in front of me was so moreish, and not at all sickly. I could have happily eaten more.
After dinner we got to enjoy the 360 experience. Carluccio’s are the first UK National Chain to offer an experience like this to every diner in their restaurants. They wanted to take their customers to Italy, and the way to do this was through a VR 360 experience – by getting a video up on your phone and putting it in a Google 360 Experience box, you find yourself in Sicily, the sounds and sights really make you feel like you’re there, and you even get to see Mr Carluccio himself!