Spaghetti House have had a makeover, and it’s worked! I used to consider the Italian restaurant chain rather tired and past-it, all gingham tablecloths and sputtering candles in Mateus Rose bottles. Perhaps I was mixing it up with Aberdeen Steak Houses. Anyway, they are much nicer now, and more along the lines of Strada. Selected sites have been transformed, with a modern decor, all deep red feature walls, mirrors and exposed brickwork, plus black and white framed photos of arty Italian cityscapes. The food is new too, with a great value children’s menu (£5 for 2 courses, £7.50 for three). My daughters turned reporters for the day (at the High St Kensington branch in London) and made notes in their little notebooks. The freebie, fried butterbean nibbles were judged “piquant and salty”. The orange juice “freshly squeezed carefully” (I think the elder daughter has been told to use adverbs). And the cranberry juice was “nicely sweet”. My bottled water was fine.
Our shared starter of Calamari Fritti with Mayo was really fresh and hot, with a delicate, crunchy batter falling off the rings. The girls plumped for Pizza Tropicale (ham and pineapple to you and me) and Spag Bol respectively. The pasta disappeared completely but 5 of the 8 wedges of pizza remained (it was big and she had just eaten 10 Jammie Dodgers at a friend’s house). So the manager obligingly boxed the leftovers up as a takeaway. I like that kind of service. I hate to (a) waste food and/or (b) force myself to eat it, to avoid wasting it. I had pork with rosemary and thyme, fried onion rings and fries, plus a mixed salad (lovely dressing, and my only niggle is that I would have peeled the cucumber).
I promised the girls pudding even if they didn’t finish their mains. So they had the kids portion of profiteroles “smothered with rich chocolate sauce”. It was deemed “too cold”, but it was all scoffed. I would definitely go back to one of the new style Spaghetti Houses, if I lived near one, or was passing and was hungry. So that’s a thumbs up.