One of my ultimate favourite things to do (apart from take the jar of Nutella to bed with a spoon) is sneak in some cheeky annual leave and escape the shackles of the 9-to-5 with my Mum. Not only is she my absolute best pal on the planet and has my sides splitting every single day, she’s always there to share a garlic bread with extra cheese and convince me that that one extra cocktail is a perfectly grand idea. Her and my Pops make for a pretty dynamic duo, it has to be said.
So last week, I did exactly that. Did the midday flit from the office and headed on my merry way to Piccolino in Chester with my partner in crime at my side. We chose Piccolino as the setting for our Fri-yay afternoon soirée (marveling at the queue for Yorkshire Pudding wraps at the York Roast Co. as we went) as Italian food is a strong staple in our household. It’s normally hard to tear us away from our beloved Gusto (where we even attended an extra-curricular pasta masterclass) but being around a different neck of the woods, we thought we’d pop in and scope what was new at an old favourite.
As a member of the Individual Restaurants group, Piccolino is part of a family that contains a handful of strong culinary contenders: The Restaurant Bar & Grill and Gino D’Acampo‘s gaff just to name a couple. The Chester restaurant has recently undergone an interior makeover and I was positively drooling over the aquamarine upholstery, statement light fixtures and chunky oak furniture. Not the most comfortable from my Mum’s personal account but hey, it’s looks damn fine.
As is customary when my Mum and I get together (and the menu permits of course) we kick started proceedings with a garlic bread con mozzarella cheese. I’d definitely consider us to be garlic bread connoisseurs by now and we’re the kind of people who like the thin, tear-and-share, crispy, pizza-style bread with plenty of semi-burnt bubbles, as opposed to a toasted cheese-topped ciabatta for one. As Chris and Kem would say, this GB & C ticked all of the boxes on paper but the chefs had been a little heavy handed with the herb distribution for our liking.
Fear not though my friends, the Piccolino kitchen mafia fully redeemed themselves when they whipped up my Pollo con Funghi. Sweet Sorento, that shit is good. It comes as a crispy skin-on chicken breast nestled on a bed of perfectly seasoned gnocchi dumplings, wild mushrooms and the most divine white wine sauce. I would happily substitute my morning cuppa for a mug of that sauce it’s that good. Rich, luxurious and none of that separated residue that you can often suffer at the hands of an amateur.
Equally delectable was the Spaghetti Bolognese – a classic choice but with the attention to detail that elevates it from your Wednesday microwave meal to something you’d be happy twirling round your fork somewhere along the Amalfi Coast. We were too stuffed for desserts at this point and with an imminent trip to Costco on the agenda, I decided to leave room because Costco samples, duh. Had you been selecting something sweet however, there was plenty to choose from. The Nutella gelato nearly won me over, as did the Raspberry Frangipane Mousse but I’m sure I’ll be back to indulge very soon.
In fact, I better wrap this blog post up pronto because I’m actually awaiting the arrival of mia madre as I type. Today I’m dodging the office in favour of The Hollies farm shop for traditional pie & chips and a mooch round the Christmas barn so hang tight for that review. I know it’s gonna be a goodun because a) I’ve been there a trillion times before and b) 59 at The Hollies, which is its sophisticated evening offering is positively bitchin’.