All flash and no class? Or more style over substance? Either way. I was less than impressed
I nipped into Cicchetti for a quick late breakfast before running to some weekend meetings. The white marble, fairy lit decorative twigs and gleaming dummy champagne bottles all sparkling away more tinkerbell on a glitterball. Very clinical and brash, softened by the somewhat out of place generic and “genuine” hanging hams, salami and plaited garlic over a deli counter.
The place was busy with a good mix of people from families to ladies what brunch and couples, but it wasn’t bursting. We were swiftly sat and provided with menus. A very standard generic breakfast and brunch menu offering nothing inspirational or original but sometimes that’s what you want for a brunch – food you can trust without any surprises.
A drinks order of a tea and water for me and a coke, coffee and breakfast martini for my brunch partner. Tea and coffee fine. The breakfast martini was watery, only tasting of alcohol while all of the included marmalade sunk to the bottom of the martini glass. As soon as our drinks order had been taken, our order for two eggs benedict were on. By no means did the drinks take a long time, they arrived within a few swift minutes. Perfectly adequate. The problem lies in that the breakfast wasn’t far behind; evidently nothing had been freshly prepared.
I understand breakfast and brunch venues will pre-part-poach a lot of eggs at the beginning of service to refresh later. But they have to be right. Strongly tasting of vinegar, over watery and pretty much hard boiled – disappointingly no oozy yolk (which let’s face it is what an eggs Ben is all about). For a place so over the top in your face Italiano, the ham was average greasy over fatty bacon that was about as easy to cut as cardboard; sat under a hot lamp a little too long? And why not use some sexy Parma ham? The hollandaise was underseasoned and was more the consistency of the custard my nan makes for a trifle. Even the breakfast muffins were stale as if hadn’t been freshly toasted. Annoyingly no check was given from a member of staff and we couldn’t catch anyone’s eye for attention.
The most curious thing about the breakfast was the garnish. A token sprig of generic 80s parsley or fresh chives is commonplace. But in this instance was the top of a frisé lettuce torn off and not even on the top of the food, just on the side. I can’t say I’ve ever seen lettuce being used as a garnish!
It took some time for someone to notice us asking for the bill, which when brought swiftly was delivered in an old tatty bill holder and again took time to catch someone’s eye for payment. The waiter taking the payment was the most pleasant and gave the most service we’d had throughout the experience and even he continued a conversation in Italian with his colleague servicing a table next to us. Whilst paying we also had a waitress clear the tiny table around us, instead of waiting another 30 seconds which wouldn’t have made us feel uncomfortable and as though we were being hurried out the door.
The value was food compared to a lot of brunch venues in and around the city – £32.15 not including any service. But I couldn’t help feeling disappointed – if we’d have gone to the northern quarter, paid a little more I probably would have had better food.
I had high hopes for somewhere part of the San Carlos group and somewhere often on my friends radars for breakfast. Somewhere so visually loud and proud really should be able to get the basics right.
With so much other brunch competition out there, I’d definitely be trying somewhere else next time.
Apologies! On this day I may have forgotten to get food pics. My bad!!