Carluccio’s – Grand Central, Birmingham City Centre
Question: does a delicious breakfast cancel out an undrinkable cup of tea when deciding where to eat?
Carluccio’s poses just this question. The breakfast is great: The setting in Grand Central is convenient for so many things; the service is attentive; the decoration of the restaurant, with its outdoor/indoor seating section at the front fringed with a false wall of plants, is attractive; they serve panettone-inspired teacakes.
But the tea is undrinkably bitter.
Luckily, it has lots of other nice things to compensate. The full English (or ‘Breakfast Magnifica’ if we are going to use Carluccio’s term for it) comes with lots of mushrooms, although without beans. The eggs are petite and round. Quality ingredients, well cooked: a solid entry in the guidebook of good places to go for a full English in Birmingham. It also comes with both orange juice and tea or coffee included in the price.
Eggs Benedict also features the dainty egg sizes, and comes with some of the thickest, juiciest, nicest ham I have had in a while. The toast is Italian style rather than an English muffin, in keeping with the Italian credentials of the restaurant.
A delightful extra: masquerading under the name of panettone are these delicious warm, light and fluffy tea cakes.
Carluccio’s comes with the Carluccio’s shop, as found in all their resturants, and as always, it makes you want to buy limoncello, a panettone to take home, a pile of meringues as big as your head, and a jar of delicious looking Italian truffles, and about ten other things in beautiful packaging. Managed to resist on this occasion, but is always worth reminding yourself that Carluccio’s is one of the best places for coffee and a cake around, those giant meringues overcoming my preference for an independent cafe on a number of occasions.
In a very pleasing way, the toilets for ladies are individual rooms, with nice-smelling soap, spotless surfaces, and a surfeit of loo roll. Top marks.
Price: midrange/pricey: £9.95 for the breakfast Magnifica (but this includes two drinks), £7.75 for eggs Benedict, and £3.25 for panettone.
Atmosphere and design: identical to all Carluccio’s with a clean modern design and warm lighting throughout. The inside-out front section is nice place to people watch while you eat
Food: classic breakfast dishes with an Italian twist
Toilets: individual rooms for the ladies, nice soap, well looked after
Enjoyment: practical, tasty, opportunity for some Christmas shopping in the shop. Just don’t pop in for a cup of tea: make it coffee.