The clapping on Thursday evenings has stopped. The badly drawn rainbows by children with no quality standards have all disappeared from the windows. In the outside world I’m nearly mown down by cars most days, or trampled on by shoppers too rushed to adhere to social distancing. Be Kind is dead. We’re back to the rat race that is our selfish existential lives.
I’ve been trying to be kind all year, figuring that if I had no kind words to say then I should say nothing at all. As a result there have been lots of meals that disappeared under the radar like flight 370 from Malaysia Airlines, from the pizza that turned up 90 minutes late stone cold, to the very expensive curry which was nothing more than lumps of scraggly chicken in Heinz tomato soup. The danger of this is that I’m going back on everything this blog was intended to do; the transparency, the honesty, the reverse side of an industry full of freebies and under the table blowies. In an economy diminishing faster than my hairline, I hate the idea that people are spending money at places that simply aren’t good enough. This brings me to The Proud Sicilian, a restaurant with very little to be proud about.
First the plus points, it’s real pretty. The outside looks great, which trickles through to a pretty dining room which is a cosy space to be ignored for twenty minutes. And the focaccia, a gift from the kitchen when our food leaves us waiting for another forty minutes, is pretty good at filling the space in a rumbling tummy. But that’s it. That’s the best I can do.
Of the four dishes we initially order two are ’sold out’ (it’s noon) and one is not going on the menu for another week (I am ordering from the menu). We settle for three more. We wait, the focaccia arrives, then our soft drinks they’d forgotten about. Then bocconcini, nothing like the snacks I’ve eaten in Sicily, doughy and heavy instead of packed with cheese and short pasta. Arancini is woeful, devoid of basic seasoning, containing a ragu dry and hard. There is a weird obsession with a herb oil that appears on everything. I don’t understand it.
A baked pasta dish arrives. It’s clearly burnt. Looks burnt. Smells burnt. I send it back without trying it. They return to tell us it was burnt and that they’ll take 50% off the bill for that dish, thus charging me £4.25 for the pleasure of sending a dish back. Melanzana Parmigiana – at best a luscious, almost meaty feast – is a sad rendition. It has no depth of flavour and the aubergine is soggy. We feign fullness and ask to take it away before binning it at home.
After paying £37 for the above we take the short stroll home, concluding that nothing was redeeming about the food. Being southern Italian of descent and with a real love of Sicily I desperately wanted it to be good. Sadly it’s not. Maybe it will be with time, though for now I suggest you take your money elsewhere. As ever, I’m happy to help with suggestions.
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