[Hale Barns, Greater Manchester] San Carlo Fiorentina

It’s a while since we’ve been here. We’d sort of started to feel that it wasn’t quite as good as it thinks it is. But, it was worth another try. And, no, it’s not as good as it thinks it is.

There’s plenty of choice. A longish carte, backed up with an equally longish list of daily specials. The sort of daily specials that are always the daily specials. And, I think, even more starters on the specials list than the carte.

Several of the pasta dishes come in either starter or main course size. So, a starter of rigatoni alla Norma. Al dente pasta and a well balanced aubergine and tomato sauce. My partner’s first two starter choices were “off”. At which point she preceded her own “off” with “pissed”. Manager says he’ll bring her some very nice prawns instead. In fact the four king prawns were just boring.

She followed that with a decent enough pizza – good sauce, the right quantity of toppings, etc. I can rarely resist fegato alla Veneziana when I see it on a menu. They do it well here. Small chunks of liver briefly cooked so it’s still soft and tender. Lots of long cooked onions in a strong savoury sauce. They advertise it as coming with polenta, but it’s a tiny slab. You need to know this, so you can order some spuds or, as I did, order a substantial starter.

Only one of us wanted dessert. Yep, that’d be me. And, yep, that’d be tiramisu. I rate their version highly. Not too sweet with a definite hit from both coffee and booze. Instead of dessert, herself ordered a dessert wine and dunked the accompanying cantuccini biscuits in it.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold