I have been an habitué of Carluccio's for years: initially visiting branches in London; then, with their diaspora throughout the kingdom, the Trafford Centre restaurant became my eatery-of-choice. However, as a resident of Altrincham, I was thrilled when on 29th August 2014 what was the American Grill in Hale re-opened after a thorough refurbishment as my local Carluccio's.
Initially I felt somewhat disloyal to the Trafford Centre outlet, which had served me so well for several years, but very quickly settled in to the new one. The staff from the launch have all been affable, professional and always with a can-do attitude.
When in England, I average a visit approximately every four to six weeks. In all the meals, I have not once had reason to complain. Nor has chef tried to kill me by failing to take account of my serious food allergy. I love the food so much, that I generally tuck in as soon as it is served and have thus missed the opportunity to photograph the dishes and so write a review. On my last visit I ensured I had camera to hand and all plates were preserved for posterity.
[Image description: my chum at table]
On this occasion I was not in my wheelchair. However, the step-free entrance has double-doors that swing outwards providing ample room for access and there are plenty of tables on the lower level at which a wheelchair can be accommodated. I have never needed to use the conveniences, so cannot aver whether or not there is a disabled WC.
The ever amiable maître d', Antipodean Matthew, greeted us and showed us to table. Pleasantries and memories of our ultimate visit were exchanged. His selection was perfectly acceptable, but there is no snootiness here about requesting an alternative if one should prefer same. Menus were proffered and a few moments later the English sommelier-waiter was over to take our drinks order. In some ways my companion and I are creatures of habit, as we invariably plumb for a glass of fine Prosecco as our apéritif of choice here.
Rico selected the "bread tin" (@ £4.50) with dipping oil for his starter [top image] and I the chicken liver pâté (@ £5.95) served with lightly toasted ciabatta and red onion marmalade [bottom image]. The latter was smooth, creamy & delicious, but also very generous; so there was sufficient to share with my comrade. Every scrap of pâté and every crumb of bread was wolfed down. Mmmmm… REAL bread! The Prosecco complimented the spread with no flavours overpowered or subverted.
My first choice of mains, venison tortelloni (@ £9.50) was off bounds to me due to my allergy, so I opted instead for Milanese di pollo (@ £11.95) served with green salad [upper image]. My chum chose the chicken saltimbocca (@ £13.50) which came with rosemary & garlic roasted potatoes [lower image]. My driver had to settle for sparkling water; but I had a superb glass of sparkling red Lambrusco, Vecchia Modena - absolutely divine! Once again our plates were returned to the kitchen scraped clean.
We were far too full to take dessert there; so, whilst my friend paid the bill (£45 for two two-course meals, three alcoholic drinks and two bottles of water), I popped into the attached deli [image above] to pick up some delicacies. The lovely, Spanish bar-keep also serves as the shop assistant. I selected from the choice of Valentine's Day specialities [images below]…
Thus far we have noshed on the love-bears (recalling fond memories of school-day "chocolate concrete") and the shortbread & the chocolate heart-shaped biscuits. Yet again delicious - and not overly sweet, as many British confections tend to be. We are yet to consume the raspberry meringues and the cupcake, but anticipate that they will taste equally gorgeous.
Do I recommend Carluccio's in Hale? Hell yes! %DDD
Please note that there are two towns named Hale in Cheshire. The site of Carluccio's is in Altrincham.