Readers of our blog will know how in love we are with pretty much anything Italian, especially when it comes to cuisine! For my birthday this year we weren’t able to be on a cruise or in Italy (shame) and so we decided to book Cucina Rustica, currently ranked #16 of 115 Italian restaurants in Birmingham.
So, given that this restaurant isn’t the highest ranking why did we decide to choose it? Quite simply the menu and the fact it isn’t part of a chain. After the amount of time we have spent in Italy or on board Italian cruise ships I wanted something authentic that would provide wow factor in the cuisine.
We arrived just before our 7:30 reservation on Wednesday 3rd July and were shown to a table in the middle of the restaurant. A (presumably) junior waiter provided us with menus and the wine list and left us to look. I was somewhat surprised that we weren’t provided with the list of fish dishes which the website advises is available.
The extensive winelist focuses around Italy and France, and of course we opted for a bottle of Prosecco to toast the festivities and a bottle of Verdiccio to go with the food (although at that point we hadn’t decided what food to have, but we know we like a good bottle of this!
After being presented with the somewhat extensive list of daily specials, we made our decisions. All in all it was probably about half an hour between entering the restaurant and ordering. I opted for the Fegatini di Pollo – chicken livers with shallots, cream and pancetta and Andy opted for Salmone con Granchio – smoked salmon with crab meat and avocado.
For our main courses Andy ordered the Vitello ai Porcino – veal with porcini mushrooms in cream, whilst I decided to go with Costolette di Agnello – rack of lamb with honey glazed apples and Marsala wine sauce.
Our starters arrived within about 10 minutes, and yet again my photography doesn’t do food justice, but my excuse is that I was celebrating my birthday! I hope the photos do the food justice, and show how generous the portions are. One of these dishes would certainly do for lunch.
Andy would describe his salmon dish as good quality salmon which was well balanced with the crab and avocado. Good quality smoked salmon is not cheap and at £8.95 this represents good value in his opinion.
My chicken livers were tender and the marsala wine sauce perfectly brought together the dish and moistened the ciabatta bread it was served on.
No sooner had our plates been cleared then we were presented with our main courses. We had been sat with the plates infront of us for a while just taking in our surroundings and enjoying ourselves, but it did seem as if the need of the kitchen to deliver the food to tables was prompting the wait staff to clear the tables. Incidentally there was one table next to us that was not cleared properly throughout our time in the restaurant.
Yet again the main courses were excellent. My rack of lamb, which I had asked to be served rare, came out as exactly as I would have cooked it. I had seen previous reviews complain that what was served was lamb chops, and to be fair, this was lamb chops, however what the other review did not mention was that these were four very succulent and large lamb chops. I struggled to finish the portion!
Andy’s veal dish was a bit overdone for his liking, and the menu billed porcini and oyster mushrooms. We’re only just discussing this now hence not mentioning it at the time, however as you can see from the picture the mushrooms were just regular mushrooms. That being said, the dish was enjoyable, and the side salad we were both given was another generous portion. We’re personally not sure what the chips added.
We had no room for dessert and as such passed on that option, before paying the bill and leaving.
So our summary?
We’re left wondering whether there’s been a change of staff, as the head waitress / manager was working very hard with who we presume are new employees due to the university changeovers.
The food was in the main excellent, although the veal dish let it down, but we could have corrected that at the time if we’ realised, however it is worth mentioning.
Overall score? 8/10.
Would we return? Yes.