THE cupboards at Tech Towers were barer than a gangster’s Christmas card list.

Faced with a high tea of mouldy cheddar and a frozen Bud, I hollered to the Moll to pucker up her New York red lips and saddled up the Buick.

Toots said she was keen to try the new meat-free, Autumn menu at Italian favourite Carluccio's, downtown on West Nile Street.

She announced last week she was turning vegan for “ethical reasons.” I suspect it had more to do with Patti McEndrick telling her it was a fail-safe way to shift some weight before the festive parties.

She had also got wind that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch was shooting some scenes for his new TV show, and was hoping for a glimpse.

Celebrity chef and owner, Antonio Carluccio believes vegetables are more than just side dishes and should be celebrated in their own right and has launched a new range of veggie and vegan dishes.

I was keen to find out if a meat-free meal could satisfy the hunger of an intrepid Dinertec.

We were quickly shown to a table by a suave Italian waiter, who made the Moll blush as he helped her into her chair.

It’s a lovely setting, cosy and relaxed with candles and soft-lighting and hopes are high the food will match the mood.

I’m drawn to the Crostini ai Funghi and it doesn’t disappoint. Mushrooms and kale sautéed with garlic and chilli served on toasted ciabatta.

It’s a lovely combination and a nice change from the standard bruschetta and good to know, I’m getting a few of my five a day, which leaves room for a bit more of the bad stuff later.

The Moll is a traditionalist a heart and opted for the Tomato Bruschetta. Slices of grilled ciabatta topped with fresh baby plum, yellow cherry and beef tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, baby basil and garlic.

She polished off every morsel, declaring it the cat’s pyjamas.

For main, I was curious to try the cauliflower pasta or the more glamourous sounding, Orecchiette al Cavolfiore.

Orecchiette is variety of pasta typical of Apulia, a region of southern Italy.

The pasta is tossed in cauliflower sauce, sautéed kale, chilli and roasted turmeric cauliflower florets and topped with capers and garlic and herb breadcrumbs. It’s tasty enough but seems a bit lacking in something, maybe a bit more spice. Again, it’s chock full of the good greens but didn’t really light my fire and I’m starting to feel that I’ve had tastier Italian dishes at home.

Blondie opted for Spaghetti con Polpette di Pane, Puglia-inspired balls of bread, semi dried tomatoes, garlic, capers and rustica olives tossed in tomato and basil sauce and served with spaghetti.

She said it was nice enough but just not as flavoursome as she had hoped.

The Moll finishes with Chocolate & Rum Fudge Cake, with ice-cream. She said she couldn’t taste the run and the sponge was slightly dry.

My biscuits are delicious, however, and the perfect accompaniment for a tasty Italian cappuccino.

The overwhelming feeling is that it’s the standard of a chain Italian restaurant, albeit a good one, which of course it is, but I’d hoped for something slightly better.


Crostini with mushroom - £5.95

Tomato bruschetta - £5.50


Orecchiette pasta with cauliflower sauce, £10.95

Spaghetti with bread balls - £10.95


Chocolate and rum fudge cake - £5.95

Artisan Italian biscuits - £1.95


Bottle of Sauvignon Blanc - £18.95

Cappuccino - £2.60

Total - £62.80.

Carluccio's, 7 West Nile Street.

Tel: 0141 248 1166

Food ***

Atmosphere ****

Service ****