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Each time I go back to my childhood home town of Eastbourne in the U.K., I seem to be introduced to different restaurants that challenge my traditional views of the British gastronomic scene. On this particular visit, John and Daphne (a.k.a. my parents), once again kept up this trend by taking me to Solo Pasta, an Italian style restaurant located on Cornfield Road in the town centre. From the exterior, the locale is somewhat unassuming. Indeed, one of the major differences between European and North American eating establishments is that in Europe, the majority are small family-owned and operated, where in North America, they are most often chains or franchises. Solo Pasta like many businesses of its ilk in England, seems more like a roadside cafe than an upscale restaurant. Ah! But what about the food?
What would an Italian restaurant be without an offering or two of lasagne, on of the most quintessential of Italian foods. Although I did not personally sample this dish, John assured me that it was completely up to snuff! To be sure, its appearance alone, which is often half the battle when dining out, would give it better than average marks. So often, a hunk of lasagna unceremoniously dumped on a plate, can detract from one’s enjoyment of what might otherwise be a passable dish.
Since this was a relatively late lunch, I felt that I needed something on the lighter side and selected the crab pasta. I am sure that it had a much fancier name on the actual menu, but you get the gist of it. Although, in and of itself, this was a well put together dish, it lacked a certain visual appeal. Even the corn, which I found to be an unusual ingredient, did little to make it less homogeneous and more colourful. They did not scrimp on the crab and the dish was quite tasty but consistency and variety could have been improved.
As is often the case in English restaurants, the desserts (sweets or pudding in the local vernacular), was where Solo Pasta came into its own. For some reason, I had just finished describing Tartuffo ice cream to John and Daphne, since neither of them were aware of it when lo and behold, there is was on the menu! John took the opportunity to try it. It was somewhat larger than what would normally be the portion size in Canada. However, it was judged to be delicious.
If you have been following our posts for any length of time, you will be aware that I have a weakness for Banoffee Pie. I was first introduced to it by my sister quite a few years ago now. One of its key ingredients is Mascarpone cheese which, in Canada, is outrageously expensive. I have been known to cheat and substitute cream cheese when making it myself, which I am sure Solo Pasta did not do. Although perhaps not quite up to Joanne’s standard, the pie was a nice ending to a very pleasant meal. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rank Solo Pasta as a solid 7.5…
By way of comparison, you might wish to view our recent reviews of of 2 other Italian restaurants, Bonomo Ristorante (UK) and Robbies Italian Restaurant (Canada).
Sounds amazing. I echo your sentiment about lots of chain restaurants versus small family-owned places in North America..if you ever find yourself in Northern California and are in need of great Italian food, check out Simply Delicious in Santa Rosa.