Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Uncle Brando is in town...

....and that is not a good thing. Not sure either what good old Marlon would have thought of being called uncle Brando. Anyway, on our way back from a great weekend in Lisdoonvarna, we stopped in Mallow for a bite to eat. My expectations of the culinary delights in Mallow are limited anyway (except Urru of course) but Steve told me that a new Italian has opened its doors. And I really love Italian food - when it is made by Italians (and in this particular case I actually have my doubts about the nationality - but as already said earlier, my observation skills are limited) and being truly Italian.

Uncle Brando was originally called Godfather but there being already a fast food pizza place in Ballincollig, they renamed it Uncle Brando. It is hidden away in the new complex opposite the Dunnes Store unit in O'Brien Street.

We walked in and were greeted by a young waitress and seated near the toilets. The menu looked long but was only divided into starters, salads, pasta with meat, pasta with chicken, pasta with vegetables etc.......same with the pizza (so get the drift). Hidden away under Pasta with meat were the steak dishes.

On the menu were also 4 risotto dishes - and since loving risotto - I asked if it is possible to get just a saffron risotto (also called alla Milanese but the poor girl only understood Bolognese). After asking in the kitchen was told that all the dishes are already pre-made and no change is possible (that didn't leave me with much hope for the rest of the menu).

I opted for garlic bread as a starter which was a small pizza base brushed with melted garlic butter - not too difficult and really really hard to get wrong. Steve had mozzarella salad which I know comes with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil topped with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This dish came with large slices of cucumber, one tomato sliced, a bit of cheese, lots of green and black olives from a jar and olive oil that had no flavour at all and dried herbs sprinkle over it (always thought you can't get this dish wrong but was proved wrong this time).

Being short of options I ordered Penne with Arrabiata which was actually very very nice as it had a nice kick to it - so things were looking up - although being scattered with the same olives Steve had on his starter (either the jar of olives has been on offer or the dates were running out). Steve - a big lover of steak - ordered steak Marlon Brando Style. Not sure if good old Marlon really liked his steak cut into little pieces in a cream sauce that had no taste other than that of cream and sliced mushrooms from a tin (you could still taste the brine). This was served with chips. So he wasn't the happiest of all people. As I had ordered a glass of house red - which wasn't too bad but nothing to write home about - I asked for the menu again as I wanted to know what wine I was actually drinking. I was brought the bottle - a Mali Valpociella. We were brought the dessert menus and as I was still making notes about the meal I had, Steve said to me that he doubts very much that I will like any of these. Before I could ask why, a woman approached us and asked if everything was okay and I said, yes but would love to know if the dessert were made on the premises or bought in - upsidaisy, that was a mistake on my part. Apparently she did not like the question at all and started shouting (and I mean shouting) at me what am I writing and that it is illegal to copy her menu.

Trust me, I did try to ensure her that I wasn't copying her menu but wanted simply to know what I was eating - which I see as my legal right - (and seriously, there was nothing on the menu worth copying to begin with) but the good woman got into a right state and wouldn't let me finish a sentence. At one point, she even wanted to throw us out (and Steve said to me we should have gone as it would have saved us €47 - delayed reaction on my part, sorry Steve).

If this would have been PowerCourt, The Ivy or even Mint....I might have understood the buzz around the menu (which I truly did not copy, neither wanted to) but this is a restaurant that pretends to be something it isn't, where the food is average and the only thing that keeps the doors open is the fact that most people only feed these days but don't care as much as some foodies do when eating out. And I seriously have my doubts that any of the people in the kitchen were Italian - the waitresses were Polish and Steve reckoned that the owner wasn't Italian either - and the few Italians I know, would have cared more if there was something wrong with the food than being worried about their menu.

The kitchen is open to the restaurant but there is no buzz coming from it. 3 cooks (I don't want to use the term chef here) were working but didn't talk to each other at all. It is a family friendly restaurant which means you have the bored screaming kids in as well while mum and dad are trying to have a decent conversation (which of course has no bearing on the case in hand).

The interior is nice enough, it would place easily 50 people, the chairs are red and black leather. The walls are painted white with pictures scattered along them of Brando as the Godfather. If the food were up to scratch quality wise and the owner get a grib on her temper and the waitresses understood questions asked in English about the menu, it would have the potential to be a nice neighbourhood joint....just not in my neighbourhood.


Anonymous said...

La Scala Restaurant Mallow
Genuine Italian Food & Wines Tel : 022-53680

Anonymous said...

Had a similar experience myself will never step foot in the place again...Essink Restaurant in Mallow can't be beaten 3 course meal €19.95 all night every night they describe their food as modern european and no problem if you ask if desserts are made on the premises

Anonymous said...

I personally think the La Scala Restaurant is the best place to eat in Mallow. It also is THE ONLY Italian in Mallow, there are another 2 places which state they are Italian restaurants ( like bella cafe and uncle brando's ) Bella Cafe' are Pakistans and Uncle Brando's are Albanians, I am not being racist here but I think Italian food should be left to the Italians, French food to the French ect ect . I also ate at Uncle Brando's and lets say I wont be going back there in a hurry !La Scala is the place for me, great food, great service, great atmosphere and very well priced.

Elke said...

Yeah, La Scala is definitely on my list of restaurants to visit. Watch this space :-)


Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am very disappointed at the completely one-sided review of Uncle Brandos. As a resident of Mallow and a former resident of Cork city, I have eaten in a wide variety of restaurants in the last 10 years.

While I could never claim to be a food expert, I know what I like and what good service is. I have to say that I have been to Uncle Brandos at least 20 times and the food has always been extremely tasty and the service impeccable. The quality of the food has remained the same since it opened.

The food is also very nice at La Scala's but I am allergic to shellfish so I find the menu a bit more limited-what suits my taste palette is much nicer in Uncle Brando's.

The Indian in Mallow (D'Mughal's) is also absolutely outstanding. Impeccable food every time. I would recommend ordering a starter though as the main course can take a long time.

Elke said...

Dear Anonymous - thanks for your feedback. We will have to agree to disagree and have to live with the fact that our taste palettes are completely different. As you can see from the comments above, I was not the only one who had a bad experience. They might have had an odd day but it made sure that I will not out a foot in this restaurant ever again....and I agree that the India is lovely, have been there already. Still have to go to La Scala tho....so watch this space for updates :-)

Anonymous said...

I called into this restaurant in August 2011 with a gift voucher I was given. Food was loevely. When I wanted to pay they would not honour the voucher saying the new owner took over in 2011 and would not accept any gift vouchers sold previous to this. I complained about not being aware of this.She then added the voucher was only valid for 3 months anyway. This is not stated on the voucher. She then said "Please I need money for my baby" I was completely taken aback! I paid when another lady approached the counter to see what was wrong. I had heard previous stories of management getting irate so I just left it needless to say I will not be returning there.

Elke said...

I am so sorry to hear that you had also a bad experience in that restaurant. I am not sure about the legal situation but as far as I know if there is no expiry date on the voucher that it can be used for 12 month. Not sure tho when the ownership changes. Still, management handled it very bad.

Next time, maybe try LaScala. i still haven't made it but would love to hear your feedback