I'm suppose to look puzzled, not angry!

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I have a book to publish. Editors love it, marketing departments say 'up the media profile'. So here I am 'upping it' and writing about the book, food, and life in general.

Friday, 21 September 2012

La Locanda and its misplaced pride

Grumpy in Gisburn
It was my birthday last week.  I chose La Locanda in Gisburn as I'd heard so much about it and thought my birthday justified the splurge.  If only the food had justified the splurge.

Pig cheek carbonara

The specials board had my heart a soaring, 'yolk egg - pecorino-pig cheekes (sic)' sang the description of the carbonara.  I had chosen La Locanda over Nino's Fighting Cocks (a newly openend Italian nearby) for good reason.  The Fighting Cocks had lost the battle because I heard they put cream in the carbonara instead of egg yolk.  That said it all for me - I wasn't going anywhere that bastardised a classic Italian dish.  I didn't order the carbonara at La Locanda because I can make it myself in a jiffy anyday of the week but knowing they knew how to do a proper carbonara meant I could order the crab ravioli followed by lamb cooked three ways and feel confident that I would be getting something special.  I didn't.

Crab ravioli with tomato skins
Soggy chips with black spots


The pasta of the ravioli was hard, the sauce thin in both texture and flavour and why they chose to lay boiled tomato skins on top I do  not know.  Ged had been so overexcited by the menu that he ordered fritto misto as well as the ravioli.  Lucky he did as the fritto was okay.  Joe also had the fritto with a portion of foul chips.  Anyone with any knowledge of a good chip can see from the photograph that the chips were soggy and lifeless and sporting black spots.  My lovely step-daughter tasted them and said, 'Great chips'.  I swear to God we nearly came to blows over this.  I have to blame her lack of taste in the chip line on being brought up without ever tasting a decent chip.  She must have nothing of quality to compare it to.  I was furious. Mainly at Ged because he was the one who brought her up; he taught me how to eat and cook so he had no excuse.  I may have had  PMT but it really did upset me greatly.

I must add that the owner, who is lovely, and so Italiano that it's difficult to tell what she's saying, came over to ask if we had enjoyed our starters.  "They were fine" said I.  Which is what I say if things are just okay.  No point making a fuss over a bit of hard pasta with tomato skins.  Then she asked, "But what was the best?"   'Don't push it lady' I thought.  How could she be so misguidedly over-confident about what her chef was sending out?  Either there is usually another chef in the kitchen who cooks everyting we had to perfection (and tonight was his night off) or she is aware of the standard of the food and thinks it's acceptable.

Now take a look at Ged's main course of slow roast pork with truffle mash.  Doesn't that look the dog's bollocks?  Well, dogs bollocks would probably have tasted better.
Delicious looking inedible pork
The fat was divine.  The meat inedible, truly cannot-chew-it-need-to-spit-it-in-my-napkin inedible. Even Ged refused to eat it and he grills pork chops to within an inch of their lives.  I tasted the 'mash' which was very truffly but was gritty and slimy at the same time.  It felt more like badly cooked polenta than potato.

Lacklustre lamb
My lamb 3 ways was a fatty over-cooked chop, a less fatty over-cooked chop and a lovely little pot filled with lifeless tomato sauce with a few cubes of stewed lamb.  And it had not been cooked in that little pot either.  I wanted sticky, thick and glossy meat in there.  Potatoes could have done with more salt and a half hour longer in the oven too.  Zoe had lasagne which was okay.  Sarah had the crab ravioli.

We were given a hefty bill and an evaluation sheet.  I gave them an edited version of this review and hoped for a call saying it had been the regular chef's night off and all would be well if we returned.

I'm still waiting, La Locanda.


  1. just few words she do not undestande food, arrogance
    they eat regularly dog bolloks
    she is a cook????????
    ignorance about food
    they are racist
    they are invited back to la locanda cooking lesson are held regularly(will not do any arms)
    the chef at la locanda will be happy if the lady return if she apologises for the stupid comment she make without any knowledge of cooking but she is to full of her self to do it
    never mind hope she will not so ignorant about food for the rest of her life

    1. Fabulous! This deserves a whole blog post; see above.

  2. I have eaten at La Locanda and I have nothing but praise for this eating establishment. When I visited last week with my husband for our 25th Anniversary we enjoyed the food, the pasta was cooked al dente, as you would expect from an Authentic Italian Restaurant (generally when I go to an Italian Restaurant I don't eat chips, just sayin').
    The service and ambiance made our anniversary unforgettable for all the right reasons. I would recommend La Locanda to all my family and friends.

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed your meal. I truly hope that the chef was just having a bad night when we dined. You only talk about the pasta so I presume you did not eat either the lamb or the pork which we were particularly disappointed with.

      The pasta we ate was not al dente but hard and dried on the top either as a result of either being left uncovered in the cold room or on the pass for too long under hot lights.

      Why there were chips on the menu of this authentic Italian I do not know but my 7yr old requested them to accompany his fritto misto and green beans. He didn't eat them.

      I wish La Locanda a long and successful future and will return when I'm assured that it has improved.

  3. I don't understand your review; it sticks out like a sore thumb when you consider all of the more than positive comments on their facebook and twitter; i've just seen that even Carl Fogarty has tweeted about them https://twitter.com/carlfogarty/statuses/269914548302139392 "Got to say if you get the chance ..la locanda in gisburn the food is Fkin awesome.!!! #italian best I've had in the uk.! #justsayin " erm....maybe you were the one having an off day...

  4. Strange, I have been eating at La Locanda since it first opened - I think it was called Ul Buche or something like that.

    Personally I had Sunday lunch there, last Sunday. Prawns followed by veal for me, with chips! Nice chips, with firm crispy skin and great taste.

    La Locanda has just won another award for its food.


    As for Gill Watson, she seems to rate her own books highly, perhaps the same goes for her taste in food.