After hearing good things about various branches of Italian chain restaurant Strada from friends, I was really looking forward to going here. I have to say though, I was just a little bit disappointed. True, we were in here a bit earlier than usual (about 5:30pm) and it was a bright, sunny afternoon, but the place seemed to lack any atmosphere. With a little mood lighting I’m sure it would look far better, but it just seemed a little bit bare and shabby. Luckily we were sat next to a window, so we had the lovely views of the Marina to look out on.
The service wasn’t great either – considering how empty the restaurant was, we were sat down for well over 15 minutes before someone bought us a drinks menu. By the time they actually got round to taking our drinks order, we were ready to order food. The food service wasn’t prompt either – I would have understood if the restaurant was packed, but it there were only about eight tables full of people.
For drinks, we ordered number two on the wine list: Le Vigne Soave which was £15.50a bottle. It was a nice, easy drinking wine – very dry and extremely crisp (just the way I like it). It wasn’t spectacular mind, but it was perfectly drinkable.
So, onto the food. For my starter, I ordered the Polenta con Funghi and my boyfriend ordered the Insalata Toscana. Presentation-wise, the polenta was severely lacking. It tasted lovely and the mushroom sauce was gorgeous, but I couldn’t help but think a little sprig of greenery wouldn’t have gone amiss. As for the salad, it was far too much insalata and not nearly enough ‘Toscana’.
As a main, I opted for the Risotto Cappesante (Pan fried scallops on a risotto of leeks, pancetta, white wine, lemon zest, chilli & basil) which, I have to say, was absolutely delicious. Again though, it lacked any pretty presentation.
Overall, Strada is at the upper end of chain Italian restaurants in terms of its food. They offer a choice of four different risottos, which is great for anyone with a wheat intolerance for whom Italian restaurants are normally a no-go. They also have a fair few antipasto dishes suitable for the gluten-intolerants. Great food at average prices (£50 for 2 two-course meals and a bottle of wine) but they lose points for slow service and lack of atmosphere. Oh, and the fact that they add an “optional” 10% service charge to the bill that my boyfriend was far too British to refuse.