Sunday, 27 January 2013

Restaurant review: La Dolce Vita, Northampton

La Dolce Vita, Abington Street, Northampton

Another Groupon cheap meal out on Friday night!

This time it was the turn of La Dolce Vita in Abington Street, Northampton. I'd been to the restaurant before in one of its previous incarnations as Joe's Diner but not since it has been taken over by new owners and is now offering Italian fare as La Dolce Vita. So when the Groupon deal of two courses for two people and a glass of wine each for £22 came up it was time to try them out.

The restaurant is tucked away at the top of Abington Street through an archway and into a courtyard which would make a lovely place to dine in the summer.

I plumped for calamari to start and Mr Kate went for mussels cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with chorizo.

We were very surprised at how quickly the starters arrived - no more than five minutes. I sometimes worry when food arrives too quickly but there was no need to in this case - the meal was off to a good start. The presentation was simple yet effective - I was particularly impressed with the mini fryer the calamari arrived in. 

The good news is both dishes tasted as good as they looked. Mr Kate was a particularly happy boy as the spicy tomato chorizo sauce was quite delicious (so good he made me try a bit!).

Next up for Mr Kate was caramelised duck breast with a honey and raspberry sauce. Once again we were very surprised by the speed in which the mains were served - we had barely had our starter plates taken away when the mains arrived. The duck was a touch over-cooked for Mr Kate's liking but he was very impressed at the quality of the meat and the flavour of the sauce.

On the down side, the dish came with a portion of carrots and parsnips - unfortunately not as much love had gone into preparing the veg as the main. The veg appeared to be microwaved and pretty insipid looking. The menu stated the duck came with 'chef's choice' of veg, but the chosen veg did not complement the dish in the slightest - a serving of crisp green beans would have been a much stronger choice.

I was in the mood for some good old comfort food so went for rigatoni con salsiccia picante - in other words, large pasta tubes with spicy sausage and tomato sauce!

The sauce was warm and comforting - just what I was after on a cold winter's night - and I soon wolfed down the lot. The portion was certainly very generous too.

Dessert wasn't included in the deal, but I fancied a little something to round off the meal so went for a palate-cleansing lemon tart (and two spoons!).

Once again it arrived within no more than 2-3 minutes of ordering and was a good end to a thoroughly decent meal.

Whilst fast service is always better than waiting for hours on end, our three courses were complete in 50 minutes - a little too quick for our liking. We would have preferred a good 10 minutes between each course rather than the quick-fire service so we could enjoy the ambience and each other's witty repartee! Great timing if you were hoping for a quick lunch-hour service though!

It feels wrong grumbling about quick service - don't get me wrong the opposite is far worse - it's just we were in and out within an hour and home far earlier from our night out than expected. The experience was just a tad too rushed for a relaxed evening out.

All the staff were perfectly pleasant and very eager to please but perhaps a little too eager at times - we had three different people come and ask how our main meal was for us. Better than not asking at all but a little over-bearing in all honesty.

The price for our two courses, had we not had our £22 Groupon voucher, would have been £36.60 and around another £7 or £8 or so for the two glasses of wine that was included. So £22 for a meal that should have cost around £45 - not a bad deal at all!

The prices should have been:

Calamari - £5.95
Mussels - £5.95
Duck - £15.95
Pasta - £8.75

All in all, a very pleasant evening and we would return if another Groupon deal was around but felt that some of the meals were a tad over-priced if we were paying full price. A good place to stop for a thoroughly decent spot of lunch as a break during a shopping spree in Northampton town centre!

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