Carpe Diem gives locals a friendly, reliable place to go
I wonder how many non-city folk have a lovely little bistro just down the road to call on when they decide to treat themselves to a nice meal out?
The kind of place that serves food everybody loves, and where the menu is not so far up itself that diners are almost scared to read it.
More a place to chill-out over bowls of pasta or a steak with a decent bottle of wine than an eye-wateringly expensive city center posho place.
Not many I would guess, because most small town eateries tend to be dead-end affairs that make schlepping miles to the nearest decent joint almost worth the effort.
Out in Saggart, where rural has surrendered to the N7, I half expected to find a small village pub, buxom serving wenches and maybe a chicken or two grazing on the village green. I wasn’t even sure if Saggart was an actual town.
And of course, you’re right; I should know better. I should know that measuring standards with a snooty urban regard is an insult to common sense. Saggart is a contemporary satellite conurbation located on the western outskirts of the capital. A fine town in fact. And halfway up the main street is Carpe Diem – exactly what I’m looking for.
The evening begins with a mammoth antipasti platter; cured meats, cheeses, olives, mushrooms, and lettuce – the whole nine yards, including a stellar tomato bruschetta on some first-rate homemade bread. The only thing lacking here is poise. Not a serious complaint, but a good example of where less would definitely be more.
The Boss has a go at the sirloin steak with pepper sauce, and we’re immediately into Desperate Dan territory. Talk about enormous – at this rate they’ll run out of cows by close of business. Portion size seems to escalate by the course.
Taste-wise, it’s tender, temptingly charred, and cooked just as The Boss ordered. But unfortunately the accompanying pepper sauce is a ghastly grey sludge that is swiftly abandoned.
The veal saltimbocca also misfires slightly. The veal is cooked how veal should be cooked and the white wine sauce is spot on. It’s the add-ons that mess things up.
Pelting the meat with blobs of mozzarella and a dusting of dried sage instead of the absolutely essential fresh leaf version reduces a potentially glorious dish into an also-ran.
Sliced carrots with both meals are freshly cooked and nicely al dente. However, we’re not 100 per cent sure if the chips are closely related to a certain MaCain family or not, which is frustrating. How difficult could it be to roast a few spuds or slice them up and drop a load into a deep fat fryer?
Carpe Diem has to be praised for doing what few small town restaurants do – giving locals a friendly, reliable place to go for a feast of simple pleasures. For the visitor, there is more hits than misses, and aside from the sage, chips, and pepper sauce nosedives, we found the staff charming and welcoming.
Not a game-changer by any means, but still worth taking a spin off the N7 for.
Grape Spy by Jean Smullen
2011 Teroldego Rotaliano Superiore Riserva
Teroldego is an unusual red grape variety, native to Alpine Italy.
Trentino’s Teroldego, one of Italy’s most distinguished and unique grape varieties, makes a dark, fruity red wine, with soft black cherry flavours. A perfect match for any pasta dish.
On offer in Lidl as part of its Italian food and wine promotion.
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