Carpaccio of a Tuesday night

Carpaccio is a recently opened Italian Restaurant in Dunboyne, we decided to go on Tuesday evening to bid farewell to our friends who are leaving tomorrow for a 7 week sabbatical in the Southern hemisphere. Honestly we wanted cheap and cheerful, possibly an early bird and definitely a glass of wine – after all it was Tuesday! When you go to a restaurant with the expectation of cheap and cheerful, you can hope for the exceptional but it will probably end up average or below average, sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised but more often than not it is normal fare. Carpaccio’s did not exceed our expectations. We (a group of 5, myself and 4 guys) were the only customers in the restaurant apart from one other couple, perhaps this was because we chose to go out on the dreaded budget day, not many people were in the mood for going out for dinner. What the atmosphere lacked, the d├ęcor made up for, well really the chairs made up for. We sank into luxurious soft chairs with armrests which made us feel comfortable apart from one member of the party who suffers from a bad back and prefers the rigid straight-backed option. Our waiter was friendly and the owner also came to our table and introduced himself, we were also told that we could still order from the early bird menu even though it was after the designated time of 7.30; those were the positives of the service, unfortunately there were also negatives which I will get to. I ordered off the early bird menu which was scant, 3 choices for both started and main. I ordered the fish cakes and the Old Italian reliable spaghetti Bolognese; the lads ordered a range of bruschetta’s, mussels, calamari and salads followed by three pizzas and one other chicken pappardelle dish. We also ordered a bottle of the house red and some Peroni’s. Unfortunately we waited what seemed like a very long time for the starters, especially when the customers were so few. They finally arrived and my fish ‘cakes’ had morphed into singular ‘cake’. It was pan- fried and when I flipped it over, the underside was completely burnt, definitely non edible, I called our waiter and he apologised and brought my dish away. The lads enjoyed their starters and when they were finished, my replacement fish cake arrived. Comically, I flipped this replacement over and to my horror/sadistic delight; I discovered it too was also cremated!! On this discovery, the entire table let out a roar of laughter which brought our waiter running. He apologised again and called the owner who also apologised profusely and informed us that is was the Spanish chef’s first day, this left me feeling a little sorry for the Manuel- like figure in the kitchen. I said not to worry and that I would peel the burnt bits back, which I did. Sadly, the fish cake was not up to much, it was bland and a forensic detective would have had a hard time trying to decipher what sort of fish it was supposed to be, it was edible but other than that, unremarkable. Now the owner returned with a tangible apology – another bottle of the house red, free of charge, which by the way was very good and affordable considering most house wines are hover around the 20 euro mark ( Which I think is far too expensive) it was €16.95. After another intolerably long wait, the mains finally arrived, my Bolognese was almost worth the wait, it was very tasty with a rich depth of flavour which is achieved from a long slowing cooking. The pasta was also perfectly al-dente and the dish was finished with shaved parmesan and black pepper. The boys also had no complaints with their main courses, the pizzas were well cooked and generously topped, and the pappardelle chicken was also good. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when it took another good ten minutes for the bill to arrive after we asked for it; it finally arrived, handwritten with more apologies that the till had broken. With 2 coffees the bill came to €130 for 5 people with wine and beer which is quite unbeatable but as I have said, the food is not exceptional.

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