My mum is pretty awesome and generally a good sport, even if she is a little bemused by this whole me writing about my dinner. So she didn’t seem to mind too much when I hijacked one of our evening meet ups to check out the Strada set menu in the Mailbox.
On arrival we tried some samples from the new menu, which I didn’t photograph – or rather didn’t photograph well at all because I was busy trying to work out how to eat pasta with a spoon. They were tasty, which is always a good start I find. But we were here to try the Strada set menu, which is a pretty reasonable deal; served Monday to Friday from midday to 7pm, you can get two courses for £9.95 or three for £11.90.
To start my mum, predictably had salad, or rather the Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, which was simple but she said it was tasty. I struggled a bit with the starters as I didn’t want anything overly cheesy but everything had cheese in, so in the end went for the Prosciutto Involtini, which were towers of prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella with rocket and sticky balsamic. Again, nothing too fussy but was a perfectly pleasant, light starter.
As suggested, I went for a glass of La Cavea white wine, which is a mix of Garganega and Pinot Blanco varieties, which was light-bodied and worked well with the uncomplicated starter.
If my mum managed to have salad for a starter, it was almost certain she was going to go for a fish dish for main and she did – the Fish Fritti. This was made up of battered squid, salmon and seabass. I’m not convinced my mum was expecting it to be fried and I though the batter could’ve done with being a little lighter, particularly on the salmon and seabass, but it sort of worked out like being a but like fancy scampi. Being on a bit of a pesto kick, I went for the Cavatappi Genovese, which included pasta, basil pesto, pine nuts, green beans, new potatoes and Grana Padano cheese. I personally prefer my pasta a little more al dente and I’m not convinced it needed the new potatoes too, but the flavour was good and the green beans cooked well.
And then there was the usual dance of can I goad my mother into ordering a dessert. I think the dessert menu is pretty limited with tiramisu, ice cream and affrogato (which is basically coffee and ice cream) so you’re only really presented with two options. I do think adding a third, non-ice cream option would be better than the affrogato/ice cream choices, and just offering those as choices within the dish. But hey ho. I went for some vanilla ice cream because I find it’s a really good indicator of whether a place really cares about their ingredients and the Jude’s artisanal ice cream I was presented with was creamy, with specks of vanilla and really enjoyable.
Despite a few niggles, the set menu at Strada really is a bargain at around £12 for three courses. Whilst I do think another dessert option would be a good idea, it’s a neat menu which does offer value for money, plus dishes change on a regular basis to reflect seasonal produce and to let the chef show off his creativity. Overall, the Strada set menu is a reasonable option for budget-conscious shoppers looking for an indulgent lunch or early supper.
Disclosure: Mum and I were guests of Strada and so our meals and drinks were complimentary. As ever, my views remain honest and I wasn’t obliged to write anything positive. However, if you want to win my mum other, seafood and salads are the way to go