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Carluccio's at Grand Central Birmingham

Home > Birmingham > Food and Wine | Fine Dining | Christmas | Restaurants
by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published November 21st 2019
Get pizza the action near New Street train station
Hidden in a nook of Grand Central shopping centre, above New Street train station in Birmingham, is Carluccio's Italian restaurant.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
Carluccio's in Grand Central

The restaurant may be a little hidden - in the passageway that leads out towards the entrance opposite Piccadilly Arcade - but it had been found by many diners as the place was bustling with a thriving atmosphere when we arrived in the early evening.

As a well known Italian brand, Carluccio's has always been popular in Birmingham at its main venue in Brindleyplace, but this new central location at the train station is more convenient for shoppers and commuters.

It also feels more cosy with a warmer furnished decor than its sister site near the canal with stylish lampshades and a more homely feel set in front of an open kitchen. There is a sense of familiarity too with the same formula of a deli counter selling panecotta, biscotti and other delights in front of the entrance, while the restaurant area is to one side.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
The sleek interior of Carluccio's

Along with the usual offering on the extensive menu, I also had the chance to try dishes selected for its new 2019 Christmas menu that started on November 13 for the festive season.

This Christmas special offers two courses for 24.50 or three for 29 from a set menu, which includes several vegetarian options and one vegan choice per course.

Among the starters, there's some of Carluccio's usual offerings, such as Fritto Misto of crispy calimari and Antipasti spreads of salami and hams for meat eaters or a vegetarian version, both with focaccia. But there's also specially crafted dishes of Fig and Prosciutto Bruschetta, Truffled Chicken Liver Pate and a vegan-friendly Cannellini and Porcini Soup.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
A pate starter

The Truffled Chicken Liver Pate is rich in texture and flavour, made with white truffle and balanced well with red onion marmalade and grilled ciabatta. There's a slice of plain granary or white ciabatta that is topped with oil and makes the dish even more rich.

While the Fritto Misto has a nice mix of lightly floured and fried squid, tentacles and prawns with a juicy king prawn in prime position on top, ready to dip in the lemon mayonnaise.

There's plenty of advice on dishes from the efficient staff too. So, if you're not sure what to pick, don't be worried about asking more about dishes as they appear to have all tried the menu to make them more knowledgeable.

Moving on to the main courses, there's seven choices, of which two are vegetarian - a Porcini and Truffle Lasagna and a Veganese Di Natale, which is also suitable for vegans. It is a festive vegan take on its Classic Milanese dish on the a la carte menu.

This version has a plant-based escalope covered in rosemary breadcrumbs that comes with roasted butternut squash, cavolo nero kale, sage and basil and chilli vegan mayonnaise.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
Callimari with prawns make for a welcome starter

There's a couple of grand showstopper dishes with a supplement of 5 - the Lobster Risotto that also includes prawns and a spicy crab sauce for a seafood infusion of flavours and the 8oz Sirloin Steak, topped with truffle butter that comes with rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes and rocket.

There's also a Pan-fried Seabream filet with a caper, olive and white wine sauce on pearl barley and with a vegetable tartare. Despite all these mouthwatering options, we plumped for the Duck Ragu and the Chicken Saltimbocca.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
An Italian take on Christmas dinner with stuffed chicken wrapped in Parma ham

The Saltimbocca has been devised as an Italian version of a Christmas dinner with a chicken breast that has a spinach, sage and prosciutto stuffing impressed into the meat. There's rosemary roasted potatoes too and a white wine sauce acting as a kind of gravy.

Filling and warming, it's a tasty dish but more like a traditional English roast than a genuine Italian dish.

The Duck Ragu, in comparison, feels more authentic to its Italian roots and comes overflowing with frilly pappardelle pasta - the new trend.

The confit duck sits beautifully within a red wine ragu and is pure comfort food during the cold winter days. Ideal to go with a glass of full bodied red wine.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
Frilly pasta is all the rage at the moment

There's a high quality standard to the food with plenty of choice, but the highlight has to be the desserts, that are mainly suitable for vegetarians.

The options cover a range of tastes from a slice of spiced mandarin polenta cake (Torta al Mandarino, which is vegan friendly) to a plate of fine Italian cheeses from the deli with ciappe crispbread and truffle honey (Formaggi).

We decided on the most extravagant, creamy choices of Panettone Festivo and Profiterole Gigante.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
Chocolate and panettone in a glass

With a trifle-like twist on the usual Italian panettone, the Festivo dish comes in a glass and has exquisite Italian panettone layered with rich, scrumptious chocolate and hazlenut sauce plus Vin Santo laced chestnut ricotta-cream.

It's a lick the spoon clean kind of dish and has a variety of textures thanks to a sprinkling of pistachios, hazlenuts and walnuts over the top.

Carluccio's, Birmingham, grand Central, new st train station, Italian, restaurant
One huge and delicious profiterole

The Profiterole Gigante, is as it translates, one huge profiterole. It's filled with sweet ricotta-cream and served with a chocolate and hazelnut sauce.

There is something of the wow factor to this dish especially as the diner gets to pour over their own chocolate sauce provided in a small jug. It feels celebratory and naughty but nice.

During my visit in November, the emphasis was on the Christmas menu but many of these dishes are the essence of what is on the a la carte menu through the year.

The warm atmosphere, high quality Italian ingredients and polite service are what have helped the Carluccio's chain make a name for itself, and this new branch is no different. It's a welcome new restaurant for the centre of Birmingham that will be ideal for those waiting for trains near New Street Station.
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Why? Italian restaurant close to train station
When: Mon - Thurs 8am - 10pm; Fri - Sat 8am - 11pm; Sun 9am - 11pm
Phone: 0121 643 0009
Where: Carluccio's, Grand Central Shopping Centre, Birmingham, B2 4XJ
Cost: One course from around 9
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