Tonight was one dinner that I will never forget! Why am I blogging about Carluccio’s? Well let’s just say I now fully understand why those people who observe a stricter halal diet than myself and only eat at restaurants that don’t have pork on the menu, do what they do.
After not getting a table anywhere on the South Bank (because of a Graduation ceremony going on at The Royal Festival Hall) a friend and me ended up at Carluccio’s in London Waterloo, one of the many branches of Antonio Carluccio’s restaurant.
As we were told the Arancini (Crispy rice balls) were finished we decided to order one of the other starters ‘Zuppa Di Funghi Con Pancetta’, which is a mushroom soup served with focaccia as well as another starter of Bruschetta. I asked for it WITHOUT pancetta (Italian bacon). You can see where this is going…As the waiter brought it to us he said ‘Without pancetta’. Fantastic I thought and swirled my spoon around the bowl of soup and started eating it until a big chewy lump of pancetta ended up in my mouth. I immediately spat it out and couldn’t quite believe what had just happened. After many apologies from ‘Laura’ who I assume was a manager, we were persuaded not to leave.
Given the limited vegetarian menu, Laura said she’ll bring us some Arancini (even though we were earlier told that it had run out by a different waitress) and she couldn’t apologise enough. Apparently the chef had labelled the soup wrongly so it wasn’t the waiter’s fault who looked incredibly embarrassed. He also profoundly apologised many times.
We had only planned to have starters and desserts so we ate our starters and ordered some desserts. We then asked for the bill and of course they didn’t charge us for anything. Along with Laura’s many apologies and genuine concern about the fact that the first time in 30 something years I almost ate bacon, we got over this incredible blunder. I wonder what a strict vegetarian would have done?
Laura also explained that they add the pancetta last to the broth so it’s easy to order without pancetta which meant that the chef really must have been half asleep or a complete dimwit. Just to reiterate I have never eaten any pork product in my life because of religious beliefs – in fact it’s the only meat explicitly forbidden to eat in the Quran.
Speaking to a diner sitting near us who eats there regularly, he was explaining how Carluccio’s standards really drop during busy times and this seemed to be the case for us. Such an oversight really isn’t acceptable.
The only saving grace was that the Arancini piping hot and cheesy was out of this world and the desserts were pretty flawless.
There’s a lesson in here for vegetarians and Muslims alike, if it tastes like bacon then it probably is!
Has something like this ever happened to you?