Lunch at the Ask Italian on Bird Street in Lichfield
Ask Italian, The Swan, 27 Bird Street, Lichfield, WS13 6PW.
Ask Italian is a chain of Italian inspired restaurants. The chain now has its own cookbook with over 100 recipes in it. This branch is near the centre of Lichfield. Nearby parking was mostly pay and display car parks, with some very limited on street parking. The restaurant itself was at the end of a pedestrian precinct, so wherever was chosen to park would need walking from to get to it. There are some tables outside the restaurant itself, and a substantial number in the restaurant itself, divided into two areas, as the restaurant is in the corner of the building, with a bar area between them.
The place was visited on a Saturday lunchtime, and was quiet, with only a few tables occupied. On entering, you are shown to a table by the staff, and all orders are placed from the table. There was a bottle of extra virgin olive oil on the table, along with wine glasses, cutlery and paper napkins.
The menu has a wide range of wines, a decent range of soft drinks, but only a couple of beers and a cider.
A Coke Zero was ordered, but they were actually out of that drink, so a normal Coca Cola was ordered instead. This was a 330ml bottle which was served with a Coke branded glass.
The starter was an Antipasto Classico Board, which could be ordered for one or two people. This was ordered for one person. It consisted of two pieces of toasted Rosemary & Sea Salt bread, two slices of salami, one of which was Milano and the other of finocchiona, one slice of prosciutto ham, a dish of olive tapenade, about half of a buffalo mozzarella ball and an undressed salad of baby rocket leaves with wedges of a baby plum tomato, which appeared to be less than an entire tomato, and ricotta salada shavings.
The main course was a Calzone pizza, but not one of the ones on the menu. Pizzas can be customised, if desired, and, rather than the two different calzones on the menu, one of ham, mushrooms, mozzarella was ordered instead, still with the tomato sauce as well.
This was served on what looked like an artist's paint platter with a small salad of mixed leaves, olives, sliced red pepper and ricotta salada shavings. The salad was again undressed. This looked nice, and the dough of the calzone was soft and flavoursome. The calzone was perfectly cooked, with the cheese inside it melted and the exterior just right.
The dessert was a Honeycomb Cheesecake, which was a cheesecake on a cookie base and topped with honeycomb chocolate pieces. The plate was dusted with cocoa powder and there were lines of chocolate on top of the cheesecake. The cheesecake was tasty and filling, with the honeycomb pieces definitely noticeable in the taste.
The cost of the meal came to £25.05 including drinks. The service, although it was polite and helpful, was slower than would be expected given the level of custom, as there looked to be more than enough staff to cope with the number of customers present.
Although the quality and taste of the food were good, the quantities were actually rather smaller than would have been expected. The starter was actually quite small, with less on it than similar dishes at other restaurants, as there were only a few pieces of the different meats. Assuming that ordering it for two people would double the size, that doubled dish is actually the size of a similar starter for one person at some other restaurants.
The calzone, whilst nice, did not contain much in the way of fillings, meaning that a lot of it was actually the dough, and was served with a normal knife. Although it was quite soft, a serrated knife would have been better.
All the dishes were elegantly presented, and the ingredients and taste were all good, it's just that the quantities seemed smaller than you would get at some comparable restaurants, with the exception of the cheesecake, most of which are served at a similar size. All told, the Ask Italian restaurant in Lichfield served nice food, but it was on the expensive side for what you actually got.