Antipasto starter

This weekend was clearly the day for blasts from the past. Not only was my fellow quester, the lovely Katie (under whose captaincy I had the great honour to serve on a late 1990s University Challenge team, representing the University of Edinburgh), someone I hadn’t seen for a decade or more, the place where we dined provided us with a dose of restaurant style from an even more bygone era.

Cheese and vegetables

Nestled just on the main drag, on Union Place, the Sicilian Restaurant is a small, family-run place, that’s been open since 2010. It has room for twenty-odd folks.

On our visit, this was mainly made up of one large party, who were assembled to wish one on their friends bon voyage, as she left our shores for a new adventure in Australia. They ensured that the place was loud and lively throughout, which is an excellent thing for an Italian restaurant to be. They were very sweet, too, apologising for their loudness, when it came to speech time.

While managing this large group, service to our table was maintained at a steady rate. We were soon given menus to contemplate and our drinks order was taken. The menus, coupled with our contemplation of the décor of the place soon had us transported, as it was inescapably retro. Our retrometer placed it somewhere around the late seventies or early eighties.

Pasta with pesto

From the menu, we chose to share their Sicilian antipasto, under the proviso that the meat and vegetable items could be separated out, as Katie is a vegetarian. They were more than happy to meet this request. Katie followed with a pesto pasta dish, and I opted for pasta with porcini mushrooms.

The starter arrived promptly and was a simply served array of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Each element was pretty good, but it was nothing beyond pretty standard fare. I think reliable but unspectacular is how you might some it up.
Main courses followed the same pattern. My pasta dish was an accurately cooked plate of penne with a generous number of mushrooms through it. It lacked an extra dimension to elevate it, a clear stroke of “homemade simplicity”, or startlingly fresh ingredients to deliver a wow factor. It didn’t offer enough evidence that spectacular skill had been exercised in its preparation.

Porcini mushroom pasta

We rounded things out with Earl Grey and espresso, then asked for the bill, which when it arrived was simply the till receipt, as is often the case. This receipt reminded me very much of the kind you used to get when I went shopping with my mother to Fine Fare, when I was just a nipper. It was a simple list of blue numbers, with the total circled for our attention. As a final detail in providing us with the authentic retro experience, this was a masterstroke.

Overall, as a trip to what restaurants used to be like, the Sicilian is quite an experience. But I don’t think that’s what they are consciously trying to achieve. Their version of authentic home-cooked Sicilian is far too constrained by the past, for my tastes. The place is interesting as a curiousity, but lacks the freshness and vitality to warrant a repeat visit.


Blythe scores the Sicilian Restaurant:
2/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 11/20

Today’s questers were: Katie, Blythe

We ate: mixed antipasto, porcini mushroom penne, spaghetti with pesto

We drank: sparkly water, espresso, Earl Grey

We wore: excellent boots, tartan trousers

Total bill: c.£33

Trattoria Siciliana on Urbanspoon

Written by BKR