Review: Lucia, Swinegate


Tom Witherow reviews Lucia, a wine bar which satisfies on the food front as well. Roll on Valentine's Day.

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By Tom Witherow

lucia_4 Address: 13 Swinegate Main Courses: PS9-14 House wine: PS12 (1 litre carafe) Rating: 4 Stars "Would I be able to get a table for..." A restaurant that doesn't take bookings is one to steer clear of. Either they're so busy they couldn't possibly leave a table sitting empty, waiting for its less than punctual guests, or they see little point in wasting the effort in booking people into a graveyard. Lucia was, I suppose, in the latter category. Admittedly it was a Thursday night, on a cold February evening, with about an 80% chance of torrential rain, so I can perfectly imagine that an alfresco wine bar wasn't at the top of everyone's menu. Indeed on arrival I soon thought that it wasn't really on the top of mine either. We walked up to the outside terrace to find flashing coloured fairy lights and wicker chairs, not a lot different from a cheap Spanish seaside resort. And the rotating cake stand and the slightly awkward waiter didn't exactly help. But books and covers, I thought. Onward we marched... We took a place at our table, with two roaring outdoor heaters (which we were glad of) and some leopard-printed rugs (which we were increasingly glad of), under which we were gently warmed. Any worries were however put to rest once our food arrived, alongside a carafe of extremely reasonably priced house red. The pork belly, served with chorizo and grainy mustard mash, was sumptuous, salty, and fantastically crunchy. The chorizo was spicy, and the portion generous. My discerning companion had lemon and thyme chicken 'supreme' (what is a supreme? What ever happened to calling it a sauce), served with risotto and tomatoes, which the menu claimed were sun blushed (like me, after a day at the beach). Although I didn't try the offending item myself, the sounds emanating from the other side of the table suggested that it had hit the culinary g-spot, 'not quite lemony enough' being the only criticism. From a quick examination of the few neighbouring tables that were filled, the sea bass and the lamb shank look worth a try, although are a little more pricey at PS14, as opposed to the PS9-10 bracket that most of their mains fall into. The food is thus a great success, and make this 'wine bar' somewhat a hidden gem. Presentation of the main courses was beautiful, and if you're there with parents there's also an extensive steak menu. The puds however didn't look quite so appealing, rotating round a glass cabinet (they looked like an Iceland special). But we didn't let this hold us back, a liquid dessert a la Evil Eye ensued - highly recommended. Ultimately, if you can get beyond the odd music and the indifferent waiters, then you will be rewarded by great food from the grill. Both wine and food are reasonable, and with a good outdoor seating area, I'll look forward to getting back here in the summer.