The Pelican Club – Italian – Nottingham
With a bright blue neon pelican in residence, what can go wrong? The dazzling bird is ultimately not quite in keeping with the traditional wooden tables and deliberately odd chairs. I had expected something different given the additional cocktail bar and jazz theme of the restaurant. But I rather liked it; I have wanted a good independent Italian restaurant of Nottingham to challenge the supremacy of all those chains we know so well. The food, according to their website is traditional Umbrian.
The pre-meal formalities were a bit of a shambles. The pages of our wine list were stuck together with, what I hope was, a previous sauce spillage. I then began to gaze at the chalk specials board when I was informed that neither options were available. Correct me if I am wrong, but surely the use of chalk specifically allows for things to be rubbed off when the kitchen has run out? A final (promise) annoyance at this stage was on ordering a bottle of beer. I was presented with an accompanying glass with ½ an inch of water in the bottom that I had to decant elsewhere. Frustrating, but nothing to dent my independent Italian dream… just yet.
A Piatto Misto was ordered as a sharer of “typical meats and cheeses”. A waiter arrived and announced each item on the board; he seemed rather embarrassed when he pointed out several unripe lumps of brie. Not quite what one expects from Umbrian antipasti. Everything else was suitably traditional and had been arranged competently enough. I too went for something quite simple, a panzanella, something fresh but different to the usual salad. The best examples core ingredients are chunks of bread, lashings of quality olive oil and ripe tomatoes. As with any dish there is of course embellishment to be had, here some of the bread had been taken to a cous cous-like texture and served with a few vegetables through it. The remainder appeared to have been blended within an inch of its life to make a bizzare hummusy bread sauce. A handful of, at best, average quality tomatoes sat forlornly atop. There was though something that was consistent amongst the elements, a lack of seasoning.
The online menu’s main courses are £10-15 although on the current menu they were in the £15-20 bracket. There are a handful of pasta’s to chose from at £10, which is what we went for. My pork cheek and pea tagliatelle was pleasing on the eye with well cooked pasta (hurrah!). I had expected the cheeks to be braised and soft but in reality they were cured bullets that did have strong flavour amongst a creamy sauce. The lift that the peas were designed to give didn’t come, they were overcooked or poor quality, with little flavour. Both my friends plumped for spicy sausage pasta, visions of a firey tomato sauce were dashed when another creamy number arrived. What there was of the sausage either had no piquancy or the chef had skilfully removed it through a combination of cream, salt and overcooking. So that’s where the seasoning from the starter ended up.
We were all too depressed to contemplate dessert. The experience at Pelican Club had started badly with a series of first impressions to dampen anyone’s mood. Food only heaped on the misery. Sadly my search for that Italian restaurant goes on with this disappointment.
Restaurant website: http://www.thepelicanclub.co.uk/