Carluccio’s, Leeds – Restaurant Review
by Steve Crabtree / @stevecrab
They’re one of the most underrated delicacies that can you find in breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wild or cultivated, white or chestnut… the mushroom often makes the difference in a meal without you even noticing.
And if a small amount of proof were needed to show the extent the mushroom can go to on your plate, look no further. Carluccio’s are running with a mushroom menu at the moment with starters, mains and mushroom-inspired deserts to please a mushroom lover like me. So I had to go along to try it out for myself.
I went along early on a Monday evening. Not the busiest of times, but Carluccio’s has an appeal and there were a number of people in the restaurant. I tend to eat here a couple of times a year (they do a Grandioso sharing board that I love) and I’ve never been let down. So I was looking forward to my first time in the Trinity restaurant, Leeds.
Taking my seat, I ordered a glass of beer and was presented with the menu. I had two mushroom starters to choose from, three main courses and a dessert.
So to kick things off, it was a toss up between the Autumn Bowl, or the Mushroom Fonduta. And to be fair, both dishes sounded incredible. But the Fonduta at £6.95 took my fancy. Mixed mushrooms in a rich taleggio suace, with white truffle oil and served with pane carasau, it shaded it for me. I also picked the Porcini and Truffle Lasagne for my main course.
And with that, it was time to unwind for a short while and watch the bustling Trinity walk by.
“A plate I could eat time and again”
As the starter arrived, my first thought was “toadstool heaven” and I was pleased with my pick. These ‘shrooms were golden and you could tell they’d been perfectly prepared. And the tastebuds proved that to be the case.
The whole combo of the dish worked… the sauce wasn’t dissimilar to a soup, and it was a great way to begin the meal. A plate I could eat time and again. Carluccio’s made it look great too.
When my lasagne came though, I have to admit it was in contrast to my starter and looked very underwhelming. If taste went on appearance, this would be terribly dry, plain and bland. I’d wondered if I’d made the right choice. It’s not the most attractive dish in the world, and if even if you got a Snapchat filter on it, you’d struggle to make this look good. But not one to judge a book by its cover, I took my fork to the plate and gave it a go.
And that’s where any doubts about my dish simply frittered away. I would never have imagined a mushroom lasagne to exist, but this was good. Priced at £12.95, you’ve got sauteed porcini and mushrooms with white truffle oil and garlic. Layered egg pasta, cheese and béchamel sauce made up the rest of the main dish. And for me, surprisingly, I’d rate this version of lasagne over the traditional beef version. I enjoyed the balance of garlic with the sauce, and the amount of mushroom ensured I was one satisfied punter.
“Exceptional tribute to the fungal favourite.”
I should probably have ordered a side of garlic bread or something similar with the lasagne to give a variation on the tastebuds. But nevertheless I was impressed with my first two courses. And when it came to dessert, it was more about fun than anything else.
I wasn’t sure if i’d have mush-room (see what I did there…?) left for a third course. But I had to try the Bosco Incantato (£6.75). It’s a foraging inspired ice-cream dish, designed to resemble a fairy garden. The chocolate and vanilla ice-cream formed the centre piece ‘mushroom’, with pistachios, hazelnuts and fresh raspberries arranged in a way that, after a dusting of chocolate powder, you could see what they were looking to do. Finished with chocolate and hazelnut sauce, the dessert was a nice, fresh way to end a meal that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Chefs do enthuse about what they can do with mushrooms. And this menu is a small, but exceptional tribute to the fungal favourite. And you’re in a great environment, in a tried and trusted establishment in its 20th year. The menu is on for a limited time, and stops in mid-November. I assure you it’s worth sampling. And I really hope Carluccio’s take some of these dishes on to their main menu. It’d be a shame if some of these plates were only around for a short period of time.
Carluccio’s, Trinity, Albion St, Leeds LS1 5AT
0113 246 9576