Best Part: The dependability!

Bellaccino’s (or the Italian place on French Row as I call it as I can never remember it’s name) is something of a St Albans institution. Founded in 1978 (maybe) it will still be around when the relentless march of time has ground the once proud Cathedral tower down to a rubble nubbin, oblivious to fads, trends or social media. Not for Bellaccino’s the craft beer, pulled lamb or en trend shade of grey. The menu is probably not much altered from when it opened.

And an extensive menu it is, covering café standards like all-day breakfasts and jacket potatoes but also venturing into more exotic areas like Lasagne and even Tapas. Arriving first and short of time I was planning on ordering for Mrs Midweek Lunch, but when faced with the bewildering array on offer I thought it best to wait. I was tempted by the American breakfast, if only to see what was American about Cumberland Sausages and Hash Browns, but I settled on the Mediterranean Chicken Breast.

Service was very smiley, friendly, and, most importantly in our time poor state, quick.  And portions when they arrived were generous, £6 in my case buying a large plate full of flavoursome rice, a whole orange chicken breast and a token gesture towards salad. Normally I would think nothing of the vegetable garnish but there was a little smear of really very nice blue cheese sauce that livened even this bit up. I think they weakest point was probably the chicken, which was certainly tasty but had the stringy, slightly rubbery, texture that suggested it wasn’t in the first flush of being cooked. I washed it all down with a very refreshing home-made lemonade.

My wife who was in a hurry to get to the hairdresser chose a wrap to house a grilled vegetable sandwich rather than a crunchy baguette or panini. She has never forgotten a very bad family experience of being late for a wedding due to an ambitious ciabatta lunch. This was apparently my fault again. I digress. A wrap can be eaten quickly. In the event of getting it though my wife was delighted and only wished she could take her time. The wrap was warm, soft and slightly doughy; more like a flatbread. An imaginative twist on a classic. She was very pleased indeed.

The design of Bellaccino’s is not particularly innovative but exceedingly functional. There is a half hearted attempt to make us think they had a book case but we saw through it in minutes. But it was open and breezy on a lovely sunny day, and our fellow diners were a nice mix of tourists, old folk and Russian double agents.

It must be mentioned that of all our lunch time experiences so far, Bellaccino’s was the speediest. Well done indeed. That is not to say that we felt rushed or wouldn’t have wanted to linger. We would have happily spent the full 50 minutes here if we had and the time.

You do not visit Bellaccino’s for cutting edge excitement, you visit it for reasonable and dependable food. This might seem somewhat damning with faint praise, but it can be worryingly rare to find such things. The menu hopes that we keep smiling, and I think as long as Bellaccino’s stands I will.7.6/10

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