I had Christmas dinner a few weeks’ ago and feel compelled to hop on and write about it. (I’ve just enough time before Jurassic Park starts, so that’ll be an hour constructively spent.)
It was the annual Christmas outing for Derby Book & Cake Club, and the destination was Dolce Salato, Queen Street, Derby. It’s a Bring Your Own Bottle establishment – a rarity as I have never come across an Italian restaurant that lets you bring your own alcohol.
We rocked up for a 7:30pm sitting and couldn’t wait to tuck in. As is typical of a large booking, we pre-ordered and paid a deposit to secure the table. It was a great menu, with a versatile range of dishes to suit even the pickiest of palates. Starters included Piedmontese thick borlotti and cannellini beans soup with rosemary onions served with garlic bruschetta and Parmesan, wild mushrooms risotto and flan of asparagus with fondue. I kicked off with smoked salmon and garlic bread, which was a very substantial portion. Deliciously hickory smoked fish was soft, tender and wonderful with the parsley speckled bread.
There is something so very festive about salmon. I feel it’s indulgent and a proper treat, which gives any menu a celebratory festive fist-bump.
For main, I tucked into chicken breast in citrus fruit jus (orange, lemon, white wine, hint of cream). I wouldn’t pair chicken with citrus fruit at home, just because I think that’s a super advanced level of cooking. This particular chicken dish was a wild card option for me, because I wanted to try something different. And what do you know, I wound up loving it.
Succulent chicken breast bathed in fragrant, creamy sauce was wondrous. Accompanying thick wedges of sweet potato and chargrilled broccoli were delicious, that yielded a different flavour due to the sprinkling of a secret spice mix.
Fellow diners also enjoyed grilled Sirloin steak (marinated for 24 hours with herbs in Barolo wine), Genoa filleted seabass (in basil pesto, black olives, white wine), and roasted belly pork (farmer-style, mixed seeds, red wine sauce).
Desserts included panettone (ice cream), steamed strawberries (fresh lime), crepe torino pancake (ice-cream, chocolate sauce), and fresh orange tiramisu. I ordered the latter, because I had never had orange tiramisu. I got so carried away eating, that I actually forgot to take a photo of my dessert. This has never happened to me before – it may have been the effect of that bottle of rose I was imbibing. Creamy sponge layers covered in vanilla cream spiked with orange, and fruit segments sans pith was very good – you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Chef Reno has created an inventive menu which celebrates authentic cooking. Simple ingredients are made star attractions – that spiked broccoli was beautiful. Service is with a smile, and as it’s a cosy restaurant, jovial festivities feel that extra bit special. Reno is a most convivial host, who will go out of his way to accommodate you, your dietary preferences (there was a gluten-free cover in our party), and make your dining experience a memorable one.
I don’t need to extol the virtues of BYOB. It is significantly cheaper to take your own alcohol, and there wasn’t even a corkage fee. For great food and good times that don’t cost the earth (£29.95 for Christmas dinner all in) is pretty good going. If you haven’t been to Dolce Salato, I urge you to visit as soon as you can.
Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Value for money: 10
Restaurant name: Dolce Salato Derby
Address: 32 Queen Street, Derby DE1 3DE
Opening times: Usual opening times are 6:00pm – 11:00pm, however Christmas opening times vary. See Facebook page for updated opening times.
How to make reservation: By telephone
Call Dolce Salato: 07428 062931
Get social on Facebook
Wheelchair friendly: Yes