....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.