It's the last day of half term break, and we want to take the children out for a nice lunch, somewhere off the beaten track, and the usual child friendly restaurants that we tend to frequent, as today they will be super busy, and none of us in the mood to wait forty five minutes to be seated before we can even order our food.
So we hit the west end. We have driven past The Italian Bistro many times, but just never had the time to pop in. So today we have decided to give it a test run. The building a former station house was designed by Sir J.J.Burnet and was subjected to numerous arson attacks while it was closed. It then re-opened as Bar Stazione. In January 2009 business partners Iain McMaster and Andy Hull set up The Partners Restaurant (Group). They acquired the old station house and transformed it into a bustling Italian bistro and event venue. The restaurant changed hands again in June 2012, when Nasreen Aksi purchased it, marking her first venture outwith Asian cuisine and into Italian cuisine and corporate and social functions. She invested in an extensive makeover to freshen the space and lend it a distinctly welcoming, contemporary feel.
The menu here is just the best. It's impossible to decide what to have, because we want everything! This is a rare occurrence as I can be quite fussy. To complicate matters further you have a choice of three different menus, the market menu, lunch menu and the A La Carte Menu, which offers an extensive selection of Italian classics and wonderful modern international cuisine including prime steaks, Scottish seafood and seasonal game.
Head Chef, Stevie Caputa sources all the produce locally and the chefs prepare everything fresh on a daily basis, from the breads to the ice-creams.
For starters we ordered Pan seared king prawns with chilli and garlic served on a salad of hot things (£7.95), Grilled stuffed field mushrooms stuffed with pancetta, herbs and parmesan (£5.95), Light lobster & langoustine bisque with scallops and king prawns (£9.50), and a portion of garlic bread (£3.50) for all of us to share.
Everything was delicious, the prawns were a great size, and we were intrigued to see what the salad of hot things would be and we weren't disappointed. It consisted of julienne of carrot, mouli (white radish), red, yellow and green pepper, cucumber and red and green chillies, pre-seeded and sliced finely, all dressed with hot sweet chilli sauce finished with orange segments, sliced mint and sliced basil, topped off with rocket. Definitely our favourite starter. The bisque was a bit too creamy for our taste but we all also enjoyed the mushrooms.
For his main, J.snr ordered Seared salmon fillet with herb crust, crushed new potatoes with parmesan - seasonal greens and a creamy lobster sauce (£15.95). The Salmon was perfectly cooked and was a reasonably sized portion. Sticking with my seafood theme, I had the Pan seared king prawns and king scallops with chilli and garlic served with warm salad of sauté potatoes (£18.95), this dish also comes with chorizo and black pudding but I opted not to have them. The potatoes were a little over-cooked but other than that this was another excellent dish.
Karam had the ten inch margarita pizza topped with salami, and Jeevan had the ten inch margarita topped with chicken (three courses from the children's menu £5.95). J.snr had to help them polish it off as the ten incher was a little on the big size for children. Not that he minded, it meant he also got to sample the pizza. The children's menu is great value for money.
For dessert I had Tiramisu (£5.95), which is a traditional Italian sweet dish, it is espresso soaked sponge fingers with amaretto and tia maria, layered with mascarpone cream topped with luscious chocolate shavings. The dessert is served in a cup and saucer, cute to look at, but tricky to eat, there's a little too much cream and it meant that things got more than a little messy!
Karam and Jeevan both ordered the warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream from the children's menu. Jeevan thoroughly enjoyed his, and for the first time ever a dessert defeated Karam, she had trouble finishing it off.
There's a great atmosphere in the bistro, with quite a few diners popping in from the hospital next door. It's very family friendly, and there is a good number of waiting staff, to ensure your needs are taken care of.
We are already looking forward to our next visit to sample the wonderful dishes from such an extensive menu. It would take quite a few visits in order for us to try all our favourites, I can see this restaurant becoming a firm family favourite.
Exterior Italian Bistro