[Hale Barns, Greater Manchester] San Carlo Fiorentina

We’ve been to Fiorentina a number of times since I last posted a HO review of the place. Time for an update.

Later in the year, San Carlo is going to open a new restaurant in Alderley Edge. We’ll give it a try and, assuming all things equal, we’ll probably move our allegiance to there. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Fiorentina, as such, and we’ve enjoyed meals here over the years. But it is really a restaurant in a hotel and that seems to bring a different vibe to it, from standalone places. So, on possibly our last visit, what was the food like? Well, it was pretty good, as always.

Crab crostini was excellent. Toasted Altamura bread, flavoursome in itself, smeared with mayo mixed with the brown meat and generously topped with the white meat and a little drizzle of olive oil. Less successful was a starter portion of lasagne. It wasn’t the flavour, which was pleasant enough. But it was the texture – basically a dish of overly sauced gloop.

As for mains, tagliata was pretty much as expected. Rocket, shavings of Parmesan and slices of fillet steak. But the rocket isn’t dressed and the table is only set with olive oil, so you need to flag someone down to get vinegar so you can dress it yourself. Seafood mains have now been moved to a separate so-called “specials” menu. They did this some years back and it was silly then and it’s silly now. But what wasn’t silly was a tuna and lentil dish. Dead simple, dead tasty. Tuna just seared, sitting on small lentils, perfectly cooked so retaining just a little bite. We shared a bowl of zucchini fritti – shreds of courgette, lightly battered and fried to crisp. Now the picky diner in us would say that the steak was cooked a tad over from that requested, and the tuna a tad under, but not enough that it needed a complaint.

One dessert was also dead simple and dead tasty. Really good soft vanilla ice cream – think a posh version of Mr Whippy - and a jug of chocolate sauce to pour over it. Pistachio cake also worked – a thin layer of sponge, topped with a thick layer of an indeterminate mousse, then a further layer of pistachio mousse and a scattering of pistachios. Sweet, but not too sweet. Good coffee to finish.