Sunday, 28 October 2007

Restaurant Review - Ilkley Piccolino

Now I was a bit sad when Johnson's closed earlier in the year. OK! So, I had never been in the place but, somehow it seemed to fit in with Ilkley life reasonably well. I had never even heard of the Piccolino chain, but they appear to have a dozen odd places across the North of England, so must be a biggish operation. Certainly, the money that has been spent ripping and fitting out 31/33 Brook Street suggests a lavish budget. This place is more upmarket than I had expected. It's not like Pizza Express; more an Italian Farsyde. The decor is great - modern without being crass. If you're downstairs, it's a bit of a goldfish bowl as the full length windows mean it's not the place to be carrying on an illicit affair. Better book upstairs - especially the table in the bay window, where you can watch the comings and goings of Ilkley life rather than be watched. If you want to be seen, any of the downstairs tables facing into the street should do the trick. There were lots of staff when we visited and things have yet to settle down. Despite booking and wishing to dine straightaway with young children, we were ushered to the bar area for pre-dinner drinks as our table wasn't ready. We were then asked for our "tab card" which we had never heard of. You need one of these when you arrive (apparantly). It all seemed a bit of a waste of time for, even before our drinks had arrived, we were ushered off to our table and our plastic credit-type tab card was collected back in, to be replaced by an identical looking "cloakroom card". I did ask if we needed another card to enable us to eat and was dryly told that a Mastercard would be needed for that! The manager looked quite stressed by all this, even though the place was three-quarters empty at 5.30pm. The service was not as good as it should have been, given the large numbers of staff. It's also that kind of place where even a Yorkshire waiter insists on calling you Senor. Cringe cringe! Having spent ages going through the menu trying to find something for our 7 and 9 year olds, it was annoying to find halfway through ordering that there is a separate children's menu, which was not offered at the outset. So, we then had to start again! The food for adults is excellent - interesting pasta dishes, very fresh tasting and good salads. Beware that portions are adequate, rather than generous. We didn't have time for desserts but they too looked good. Young children may well struggle, especially if they are used to Pizza Express or La Sila, both of which are much more children orientated. No, this place is going to be serious competition for a number of other places in town. It's ideal for small adult groups rather than couples, as the atmosphere is very open rather than intimate. All in all, recommended. Decor 10/10, Atmosphere 9/10, Food 9/10, Value 7/10.