Monday, 19 December 2011

Eating Out is an Option: Carluccio's Glasgow

It is an annual ritual that myself and my best girlies, and sometimes honorary girlie who is actually a gentleman, do a Christmas night/day out; generally eat drink and be merry. With myself based in Manchester and the flock in Glasgow, this is of the utmost of importance to us and something we look forward to for months.

It was a concern for me this year due to my limited low Fodmap diet, when I am out and about is certainly not going to be the time that I be adventurous and go off plan. Eating out, therefore, can be tricky.

I needed not worry, the lunch I had was beautiful and I enjoyed a long day out with my friends. Just perfect.

The plan for the day was lunch in Carluccio's at 2, Glasgow Film Theatre for It's A Wonderful Life at 5.30pm and then drinks.

Before Fodmap I was a regular at the Carluccio's Spinnningfields, normally for breakfast. I have not been in since the Fodmap diet as I thought it would have been difficult with the fabulous Italian bread, the pasta and the onion/garlic issue.

On arrival at Carluccio's Glasgow, situated on West Nile Street, I noticed the different interior to the Spinnigfields version. Cosier, ambient and much more suited to the adult (a little boozy) lunch we were all looking for. We were led to a lovely half moon booth that was perfect for lunch for 5 of us; the perfect table can really enhance a restaurant visit. Our first reaction was that it felt like sitting in some cool Italian movie, a not so fierce Scarface maybe, and certainly not part of a big restaurant chain.

We ordered some aperitifs, 4 Bellini's and a beer (the beer was one of the girlies not the gentleman). The Bellini's were peach, which was a slight risk for me, but a small amount of fruit puree I did not think was going to spoil my day, and it never. It was the perfect start to my meal.

I opened the menu with trepidation, as I had no idea what I was going to order; being so fed up of spoiling many a night out I didn't want to let on to my friends my fears. With options of meats, cheeses and fish for both starter and main I quickly realised I needn't be fearful. I was even able to choose off the menu, exactly as the dishes came, no special ordering needed for me. I was also delighted to see Carluccio's have a gluten free menu; some of these dishes are still difficult for low Fodmap, but, its a really good gluten free menu with plenty of variety.

I decided to order from the main menu. For starter I ordered Mozzarella Dell'Isolla - Melting Buffalo Mozzarella, roasted peppers, sliced Parma ham and rocket. The Parma ham had a perfect sweet and salty intensity. The peppers were sweetly roasted and just enough oil to keep them moist and the Buffalo mozzarella was meltingly good. An ideal light starter for any meal; could there be a better Fodmap starter? All other starters went down just as well, with the fishcakes being picked as a highlight by my girls.

For my second course I chose Branzino Con Salsa E Patate - Fillet of Sea Bass, pan-fried, with tomato salsa and sautéed potatoes. My picture (must get better at photography) does not do the dish justice. Beneath the crispy, golden top lay perfect soft, meaty white fish that flaked away from the skin that held it together underneath. The potatoes were sautéed in skins with enough oil, salt and rosemary to have a great taste, feel naughty, but, without that chip pan feeling. The tomato salsa had evidently (obviously) been made with garlic and onion but I just ate the nice chunky pieces of tomato along with my fish and emitted the pieces of onion, easy. All other main courses in the party were enjoyed, not a clean plate among 4 us; one particularly large plate of pasta left MC defeated. In the second course I think the sea bass came out on top. Just think of that a low Fodmap meal being the tastiest!

Dessert, was a different ball game. There was not a suitable dessert for me; very rarely is there a suitable low Fodmap option. This was fine by me. I was happy with my peppermint tea and glass of wine. The others did choose a dessert: 2 ice creams (coffee and bitter chocolate), 1 chocolate fondant and 1 meringue fruit thingy (when you can't have dessert you don't pay much attention). The desserts did not go down as well as the other courses, apart from the ice cream which was met with oohs, ahhhs and spoon sharing around the table.

Coffees all round, apart from me with my peppermint tea, we sat back and commented what a lovely lunch we had just had; all 3 hours of it. The atmosphere was welcome, warm and Christmassy, the service was spot on. This low Fodmap girl walked away happily full, feeling great and arm in arm with her girlies in the glow of a good meal, good wine and good company.

"A man is never a failure as long as he has friends" Clarence the Angel from It's A Wonderful Life.

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