More often than not when we are invited out to eat it is just me and the hubster, so for Ask Italian to invite us all along to try their menu was a real treat and we were all excited to have a family lunch out on Sunday!
Ask Italian have recently won the highest possible accreditation of a Gold Mumsnet Family Friendly Award in recognition of their commitment to being a restaurant who are leading the way in family-friendly practices.
Each of their restaurant teams are proud to offer their ‘Amici kids’ experience, which is everything they do to involve children within the restaurant. From serving their food first to providing smaller cutlery and highchairs, these differences keep the little ones happy – which means the grown-ups can relax and enjoy themselves too.
We have passed Ask a few times as it is smack bang in the middle of the town centre opposite the Gala Theatre, nestled amongst lots of other eateries. It always looks busy and most of the tables outside are usually occupied so we have never called in before but the smells that drift from the doors always entice us to visit!
We arrived and were greeted with a warm welcome and shown to our reserved table. The table was set with colouring and activity pages for the children and menus for hubby and I. The children enjoyed filling in the puzzles while we looked to see what we would have. (We cheated and asked the children what they would like before we left as that could have taken an age in itself!)
Whilst we waited for our starters we had a glass of wine and the children had blackcurrant juice. I love personal touches and to see that the cutlery was stamped with the Ask Italian logo etc really made it seem like they go that extra mile.
The childrens menu consists of 3 courses and includes a starter of veg sticks and garlic bread with dip, which was a big hit with the kids as they love their veggies. Amelia wasn’t too fussed with her garlic bread but her big brothers finished it off for her! Stuart opted for the garlic mushrooms and I went (surprisingly!) for the calamari! Best yet as they were coated with a crispy crumb and not at all chewy! The garlic dip was very moreish!
The wait between the starters and mains was minimum which is always a bonus when you are taking children out for meals. The kids occupied themselves by playing with the paper hats that were put out for them.
For mains the children all chose pizza. With the childrens menu there were a few different options but knowing they could choose their own pizza toppings was a winner, we ended up with one ham and mushroom, one chicken and ham and 2 pepperoni with extra cheese! Obviously hand made and very rustic looking, the pizzas were devoured by all the children with very little left overs! They were perfect size for children and it makes a change from the standard ’round’ pizza they usually expect!
For main course I opted for the Risotto Pescatore and Stuart went for the Penne Al Pollo Della Casa. What you can’t see is that hidden under that rice is a mountain of clam shells and muscles! This risotto had a little kick to it as it was in a spicy tomato and garlic sauce. I don’t normally do spice but this was counterbalanced with the cream so didn’t come across as over powering in the slightest. Stuart enjoyed his main course and said it was like comfort food, good home cooking, the creamy sauce of the pasta and chunks of chicken were a real treat against the al dente pasta.
Dessert for us surpassed all expectations of a chain restaurant and we went for two which we would not normally pick. Generally we are sticky toffee pudding or chocolate cake fans but I went for the warm pear tart, Poached pear on a base of almond frangipane on shortcrust pastry, served warm with fresh raspberries and cream. Which was deliciously light and very marzipan flavoured, the addition of the raspberries gave it a welcome tang!
Stuarts dessert was the show stopping Chocolate Lava Mountain! Hot toffee sauce is poured over the dark chocolate cup at your table, revealing a hidden scoop of vanilla gelato on top of a heavenly hot chocolate fondant. One word, wow! The kids were in awe and its the first time we have seen one of these ‘bomb’ desserts – it didn’t disappoint!
The children love ice cream so it was no surprise that 3 went for a choice of ice lolly and ice cream but Jake went for the chocolate pizza…I think it was the Nutella and strawberries that swung it for him! The novelty of this actually pleased him more than the dessert itself as the bread was a little too crispy for him and he would have preferred a softer doughy base.
We finished our meal with a cappuchino each and included in the childrens menu are babychinos! Warm milk, frothed up cappuccino style and dusted with chocolate. This was the perfect finishing touch for the children and really made them feel part of the whole meal as theres nothing worse than sitting trying to drink your coffee while the kids are dying to head out of the door! This way we all sat together discussing the meal while we sipped our coffees and babychinos!
Overall we will definitely be heading out to Ask Italian again without a doubt! The service was second to none, the food was delicious and the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves! HUGE thumbs up from the Nicholas Children!
We were gifted a family meal for a review of the food and service. All views and opinions are our own.