Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialFood & DrinkItalian.

San Carlo Leeds review

Simon Binns is happy to be all by himself

Written by . Published on January 19th 2011.

San Carlo Leeds review

Eating on your own can be a funny thing. It can be lonely or liberating, depending on where you go.

Snaffling a sausage roll outside a shop doorway is ok in certain circumstances, but sometimes you want a proper lunch, inside.

As the snow threatened to kill off the feeling in my toes entirely, the flames bellowing forth from the front of the recently opened San Carlo – the Italian chain that has proved to be a celeb-packed powerhouse of a place in Manchester and Liverpool – drew me in like a damp and hungry moth.

“I’m after some lunch, but I’m on my own, so I don’t mind perching on the bar or somewhere out of the way...” I offered.

“No, no, we have a table for you, come this way,” replied the genial front of house manager, leading me deep into the bowels of the warm orange and yellow-hued restaurant. What? Really? Tremendous.

Eating alone is often part of the job, but some places have a tendency to keep you out of the way; off the main drag, tucked in a corner or on a bar stool.

Not so with San Carlo. A couple of waiting staff came over for a bit of small talk as I took my seat, brushed off the snowflakes. Service as usual.

The restaurant itself was buzzing – the usual groups of suits, a handful of ladies that lunch, a few couples taking time out from the shops and, sat opposite me, two mid-50s looking gents (I’m guessing financial services or law firm) tucking into a lobster each. Recession? Not today thanks.

The usual pictures of famous guests adorn the walls, although far fewer than in other cites – give it time though. This place hasn’t been open too long.

When it’s cold outside, a glass of decent red never does any harm, and a full-bodied glass of Barolo (£8.50) thawed me out just nicely.

There were a few eye-catching dishes on the specials menu, so I decided to give it exclusivity, starting with manzo pepato; thinly sliced peppered beef, gently seared, and served with a drizzled of olive oil and a hearty dollop of mustard mayonnaise. It also came with some sharp, but not overly vinegary onion bundled on top, and several polite, unobtrusive peas. A nice touch, adding a bit of depth to a wonderfully simple dish.

That was followed up by ravioli aragosta (£13), also available as a starter. This was another simple delight of a dish, as the firm but yielding pasta gave way to reveal luscious lobster and crab meat, all covered in a cream and peppercorn sauce.

Again, there was an extra, unadvertised touch – a smattering of jewel-like pomegranate seeds, which added a bit of life to the dish, visually as well as by taste.

I could have gone through another couple of servings of this, but I was feeling in a self-congratulatory mood for what I considered a capable spot of solo dining. That could have been the Barolo however.

I did have room for dessert though. Especially as it was still snowing outside. The apple tart (£4.95) with vanilla ice cream was light and buttery, with layers of soft sweet apple bringing the meal to a very good close. A glass of vino di santo dessert wine (£4.95) was a perfect companion, and was sagely pointed out by one of the waiting staff as the better choice of the two sweet wines on the menu.

San Carlo is a strange beast at times. Often chided for inconsistent food and erratic service (fairly, it has to be said) in Manchester, although undeniably successful. I waited 20 minutes for an espresso after the meal was finished on this trip, for example.

Its Leeds offering has a touch more refinement though and the food is very, very good. I’ll definitely be back. And I’ll be bringing a friend next time.

Apple Tart

Breakdown:8/10 food
4/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address:San Carlo
6-7 South Parade
0113 246 1500

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

BowksJanuary 19th 2011.

Oh joy, another San Carlo review.

NortherngeezerJanuary 19th 2011.

And another plate of shyte, that ravioli looks...................!!!!

Simon BinnsJanuary 19th 2011.

I think it's conclusive proof that ravioli is hard to photograph...right Schofield?

ConfusedJanuary 19th 2011.

Hmmm. San Carlo LEEDS. Has this article been posted on the correct site?

BowksJanuary 20th 2011.

Confused: It's posted on the correct site! sancarloconfidential.co.uk

Local localsJanuary 20th 2011.

Leeds is an hour away on a train. Do some readers only inhabit five streets and never leave them? Are they so parochial, narrow-minded and blinkered they think Leeds is too far away?

ConfusedJanuary 25th 2011.

No, I just think Leeds isn't far away enough.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants


All Hair Design are some of Brisbane's best hairdressers, we specialise in Balayage, Foils, Colour…

 Read more

For food and drink this is the best blog of UK which you have explained the things over here.. I am…

 Read more

I have investigated distinctive unmistakable articles about an indistinguishable point, in any…

 Read more


 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2021

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord