If you’re also a vegan or even just someone with special dietary needs going out to a high street chain restaurant can be a total pain in the back side.
One thing I’m always on the look out for is whether dishes can be veganised at restaurants. I’m always reading those nutritional info PDFs. A lot of the time there’s only one thing to eat and it’s usually chips or potatoes. Sometimes restaurants can totally surprise me and have a special separate menu for vegans!
Carluccio’s was one of those restaurants! (They also have a separate gluten-free menu)
The vegan menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were multiple starters and side dishes available. Obviously there’s only one main course – the spaghetti – however, in a restaurant that’s basically a homage to the cheese, meat rich Italian cuisine I wasn’t too surprised.
For my starter I had Caponata, a Sicilian sweet and sour aubergine stew served with grilled focaccia. The stew had an incredibly rich tomato taste, dotted with pine nuts. Sometimes aubergine can be tough and chewy but this was melt in the mouth soft. I loved this dish!
For my main I had the only main dish available – the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro e Basilico. Spaghetti with tomato and basil for us non-Italians. This dish was inoffensive but there’s not too much you can say about pasta with tomato sauce. After I was brought this dish the waitress offered me parmesan cheese, assuring me it was “vegetarian!” which I politely declined. Slightly awkward.
For my side dish I had Verdura Fritta which was courgette, peppers and aubergine in a crispy batter. Think Italian tempura. I really liked the fritta, it was crispy and salty.
Overall my experience was positive. I only have one vegan friend and frequently go out with people who don’t have dietary requirements. Having a mainstream restaurant where everyone can eat what they want is great!
I visited the Muswell Hill branch.