AL DENTE RESTAURANT
It was an ITISON voucher that lured us to Al Dente restaurant on Easter Road, an Italian restaurant that prides itself on serving “pure Italian food, unadulterated by cream or pre-cooked pasta, always fresh and delicious”.
Our table was booked for 6pm and we were seated at a window table. The décor is traditional, lots of pictures on the walls of famous landmarks of Italy. The old wooden tables and chairs are close together as the restaurant is small. We were offered bread and olives whilst we looked at the menus which we kindly accepted.
The menu was not your typical list of pastas and there was not a mention of pizza. Instead it had a small list of antipasti, paste, secondi and deserts. This was a pleasant surprise and made me eager to try the food. I opted for ‘Tortino di carciofi e spinaci’, spinach and artichoke tart and my husband ordered a Salmon and lemon mousse served with chick pea fritters. The starters arrived and on first impressions they looked well presented. My tart was ‘nice’, nothing special but I did enjoy it. The filling was fresh tasting; the pastry had no soggy bottom but was too thick in comparison to the amount of filling. Again, the salmon mousse was nice but you would not be rushing back to have it again.
We both ordered the restaurants specialty pasta ‘Paccheri al Branzino’. This was described as Fresh pasta tubes filled with a sea bass puree served with mussels and king prawns in a light seafood sauce. This was the high point of the meal.
The fresh pasta had a slight firmness with the puree melting in your mouth the textures played in your mouth. The mussels and prawns were out of their shells making it no hassle to eat and were so juicy and fresh. The seafood sauce was delicate and buttery, not overpowering the beautiful fresh pasta and fish. This dish was perfect.
We also ordered a portion of lasagne to share, I thought this was being rather greedy however I am glad we did because even though the seafood pasta may have been the best pasta dish I have ever tasted it was a rather small portion. The lasagne again was delicious. It was layer upon layer of oozing cheese, pasta and Bolognese.
As I said before I have a sweet tooth and even with a starter and one and half mains I still had room for desert. The desert menu also emphasized that the deserts are homemade. We both went traditional ordering Classic Italian Tiramisu and chocolate profiteroles. My tiramisu looked a good size portion, layers of sponge and cream. I was not overwhelmed with the flavours. It lacked the taste of coffee and was overpowered with cream. You could taste the alcohol but only slightly, overall a little disappointed. On the other hand the spoonful of profiteroles that I had were delicious, the pastry light and fluffy filled with whipped vanilla cream smeared in hot chocolate sauce. I have to admit I had pudding envy!
When presented with the bill we noticed that they had charged us for the bread and olives. I know lots of restaurants do this but £3.50 for 2 cold pieces of crusty bread and a small bowl of olives seemed very steep. I really get annoyed at this they should tell you before offering it.
This was a restaurant with highs and lows. Highs; the best pasta dish I have ever tasted, it was truly sublime. The waiters were friendly without being overpowering. The lows; charging for the bread, the average starters and desert, and the house wine. Overall I would go back to have another plate of al dente pasta!
Bill for two: £47 (voucher saved us £12)
Food: Authentic traditional Italian
Service: Welcoming, attentive waiter
Atmosphere: Small restaurant, very quiet
Overall: 5.5 / 10