Having heard various mixed reports of late about this restaurant, we felt it time to check the place out once more. OK, it’s not what you’d call budget. Far from it! And maybe for the most of us it’s best kept as a place of special celebration. We knew it was going to sting financially so, is it worth a visit?
In a word, yes.
This award-winning restaurant and hotel, run by Sicilian-born chef Pietro Catalano, is housed in a unique former windmill and offers fine dining and a touch of class.
San Pietro advertised a fabulous seven course tasting menu including a full vegetarian choice. The trouble with these tasting menus is that you get whatever the chef gives you (like goat’s cheese – one for, one against), but it should be a real experience for the adventurous. You get to try things that you may not usually choose.
Starting with a glass of pink fizz and the seemingly customary roasted garlic, olive oil and a cube of ‘special’ bread, we began on the food marathon of culinary delights. Here goes…
Roast tomato veloute with red chilli pesto followed by burnt (on purpose!!!) goats cheese with red wine poached pears, hazelnut and watercress. Then it was time for scallops, artichoke, prosciutto, and truffle. Chicken tortellioni, sweetcorn veloute, pine nut and basil oil. Then monk fish in black ash (yep, black ash!) and beetroot. My favourite was the delicious Chateaubriand; cooked to my liking and carved at the table, and served with potato terrine, fois gras snow, mushrooms and spinach. The vege main; aubergine parmegiana, fried tomato and mozzarella gnocchi and pasta crisp, was a tasty alternative but in my opinion could have been a bit more of a generous portion. Just as I was recovering, out came a pina colada palette cleanser, followed by a very tasty white and dark chocolate mousse with sorbet and passion fruit. Last but not least came coffee with gorgeous homemade chocolates. The wine went down a treat.
And a quick mention in praise of the full alternative vege menu. Fantastic food from the amazing Pietro, and for a pleasant change in restaurants I’ve visited, not just an afterthought.
So, what wasn’t quite so amazing? On entering we were welcomed by an English lady who poured out our fizz. So far, so good. But then someone, presumably the sommelier, hurriedly gave us the menus and the wine list, and within a couple of minutes was asked if we’d chosen the wine yet. We felt we were being a bit rushed. Yes, sounds a bit snowflakey, however, after being led to our table, Mr. Grumpy asked us for our wine choice again and I asked for another two minutes to decide. Within the two minutes he was back again, before we’d even had a chance to peruse the contents, looking anything but happy, and pretty much demanded our choice. With smiles and apologies from us we quickly chose a bottle of their rose house wine. No thanks from him as Morose Mario walked away, returned, poured and disappeared.
We were looked after by a young (and presumably) Italian waiter who was cheerful, personable and pleasant. Offering humour and just the right amount of conversation to not be intrusive, he introduced the dishes and asked for feedback. However, the occasional dish was delivered to our table by another mature staff member who refused any conversation, with no eye contact and then ignored us. Other dishes were delivered by an attentive female staff member who made up for any ill feeling. I don’t know, but maybe it was a bit of a culture clash; the two mature staff nearly spoiling the whole San Pietro experience. Did we complain, you may ask? Well, considering Pietro hails from Sicily, (Mafiosa, etc.) we thought better of it! We didn’t want to wake up with a horses head on the pillow.
It is unfortunate that the San Pietro restaurant is not in the best of locations and the popularity of the restaurant means car parking is not great. But if you can find a parking space, close your eyes to the drab surroundings of the general area and immerse yourself in the beautiful interior of the restaurant, then Pietro’s eating experience is a must. Be prepared to give your bank card a bit of a hammering!