Lunching is one of the more affordable luxuries that no lady should be without. Don’t worry though, we sometimes let the boys join in. After all, even they have to agree that there is not much nicer than whiling the hours away over a lunchtime meal into the early afternoon. It’s all very naughty; especially when wine is involved (and with me it generally does make an appearance).
In the run up to Christmas, the social calender gets pretty full doesn’t it? It’s a time where you don’t particularly need a real reason to meet up with friends. Many are going away for Christmas and want to say goodbye before they go; other friends are staying at home, but there is still a need to see them before the big day. And in the run up to this rather busy, pre-Christmas week Gav and I decided to treat ourselves to one of these lunchtime extravagances. The joy of the Tesco Clubcard deal vouchers allows us to do this more regularly than we would otherwise be able to. There are a few chain restaurants who accept these vouchers, but our favourite is Strada. In fact Strada is our favourite chain restaurant and although I wouldn’t go here and pay cash (on principle more than anything else), I am more than happy to use the vouchers here.
Our local Strada is about 5 minutes walk away from the flat (oh the joys of city living) and at half past two on a COLD Saturday afternoon, it’s suitably quiet! Not dead, but quiet. We sit and peruse the menu, which doesn’t take too long as it doesn’t change that regularly and we do visit quite often. The starters are pretty dull at the moment. The exciting sounding Carpaccio di Manzo is as far away from that invited by Giuseppe Cipriani as it possibly could be and a serious let down. Nothing else on there particularly inspires; although the antipasto misto is always worth a go. This time, we order from the specials menu, well I say specials, they probably change weekly, definitely not daily! We order a selection of small dishes; ciabatta with goat’s cheese, bread sticks wrapped with Parmesan, rocket and some ham, some salame and some ciabatta with roasted peppers and anchovies. There was more than enough and everything was fine. I was pretty impressed by the slab of goat’s cheese served as it was pretty substantial given the £2 price tag.
On to the main, I had, as always, the bistecca di Manzo, which is basically a char-grilled rib-eye steak. Gav had the sea-bass from the specials menu. We also shared some broccoli with chili butter. I like my steak medium rare, but as many restaurants have a tendency to overcook steaks, I always ask for it rare. It generally works out for me, as it did on this occasion. The steak was nicely seasoned, nice and red and perfectly tasty. It was a good size, for me and Gav had scoffed down his sea bass before I was half way through (I am a slow eater). Gav’s sea bass was also a decent sized dish, with basil mash, olives and tomatoes. The sea bass had a crispy skin but the fish was still nice and delicate.
All this, washed down with a bottle of Primitivo, was an ample touch of luxury which, thanks to the Clubcard vouchers, did not leave us out of pocket. Don’t get me wrong, you will not get a gastronomical experience here and as there isn’t any veal or lamb on the menu, its Italian roots must be questionable, but you will get a reasonably good meal and, for me, it’s the best that any of the chains are offering.