Ask Italian, The Swan, 27 Bird Street, Lichfield, WS13 6PW.
The Swan, 27 Bird Street, Lichfield, WS13 6PW
Ask Italian is a chain of restaurants featuring Italian and Italian inspired cuisine. The chain states that British professional and celebrity chef Theo Randall, who was awarded a Michelin star at The River Café in London, helps with their menu. The branch visited was the one in Lichfield.
There is some street parking near the restaurant as well as a number of car parks in the city centre, one of which is nearby, and which are pay and display. These are not that easy to get to due to pedestrian precincts and one way streets for those unfamiliar with the area.
The restaurant had a fairly minimalist level of decoration with not much on the walls and fairly simple furniture. It was visited on a Saturday lunch time and was moderately busy when entered, with many tables occupied, although it was not packed. Part of the kitchen of the restaurant opened onto the dining area, allowing customers to see the chefs working.
The tables had on them a bottle of Ask Italian labelled Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and similarly stamped cutlery, with paper napkins. Upon entering, customers are shown to a table, and the restaurant is table service.
The restaurant serves a variety of Italian food, such as pizza, pasta, risottos, meat, fish and salads, from the Main Menu and Specials Menu.
The drink ordered was a 330ml glass bottle of Coca Cola which was served with a glass and ice. This was fine, and was served at the correct temperature.
The starter ordered was an Antipasto Classico Board. This could be ordered for one or two people, and the portion for one person was the one ordered. The dish consisted of two slices of salami, one Milano and one finocchiona, a slice of prosciutto ham, a piece of buffalo mozzarella, rocket and tomato salad with shavings of ricotta salata (a firm, salted type of ricotta cheese) - the tomatoes were of some small type, possibly cherry but more likely some type of baby plum tomato, which were sliced in half, two pieces of Rosemary and Sea Salt Bread and a small container of olive tapenade (finely chopped dark olives in olive oil). Despite the name, this was not served on a board, but on a normal plate.
The salad could have done with a bit of dressing on it, although it's possible some would have been available if it had been requested. Other than that, this was a nice starter. The bread in particular was very nice and slightly warm, and was an ideal accompaniment to the tapenade.
The main course ordered was a Ham and Mushroom Calzone (a folded pizza). Although there were two calzone pizzas on the menu, this was not one of them, but the restaurant was happy to make one anyway, and at a reasonable price, as the cost was less than that of either of the two calzones that were available.
This was accompanied with a salad that consisted of mixed leaves, a ring each of red and a ring of yellow pepper and some sliced red onion. Both the salad and pizza were served on a teardrop shaped platter, reminiscent of an artist's paint palette, including a thumb hole.
Again, the salad could have done with some dressing on it. The pizza had the standard ingredients of tomato sauce and mozzarella, and also tasted of garlic, and appeared to have some herbs as well. The pizza bread was nice and soft and the ingredients inside it were properly cooked, with the cheese nicely melted. This was quite a tasty pizza, although not a huge one, especially considering it was not a standard item on the menu.
The dessert chosen was a Honeycomb Cheesecake. This was a cheesecake on a cookie base that was sprinkled with crunchy honeycomb chocolate pieces. The cheesecake was then dusted with icing sugar. This was a quite filling dessert, and the cheesecake itself tasted nice, as did the chocolate honeycomb pieces on the top of it.
The cost of the meal came to £23.25 including the drink, which is quite reasonable for a three course meal. The server was not pushy at all, giving plenty of time between courses if wished, but was still available when needed, which makes a nice change from those restaurants that try to get you in and out as quickly as possible. This was a nice meal, as all the food was very enjoyable, and pretty good value for money and, as mentioned earlier, the service was prompt when needed and relaxed when it wasn't. The Ask Italian in Lichfield was a nice restaurant to eat at and is definitely recommended.