Leo Owen pops along to the Electric Press Revolution at Millennium Square in the city to sample the new summer menu and a few tasty cocktails.
Today is sweltering and the beginning of a predicted heatwave. As is customary in Britain after the slightest hint of good weather, optimistic sun lovers leisurely stroll around scantily-clad and topless lads swagger about. In Millennium Square groups of after-work drinkers going for a “cheeky one” cluster around outside tables, eagerly scouring for vacated seats.
Today is indeed perfect spirit-raising weather and ideal for trying the new summer-themed additions to Revolution’s menu. The Summer Meze sharing board (£10.95) is generous in size and colourfully covered with a selection of meat and vegetable appetizers. Although their texture is more biscuity than crispy, the Italian nachos are a novel try and one of the most inventive inclusions. Resembling miniature pasties stuffed with tasty smoked provola, gran padano, mozzarella and mascarpone, they’re accompanied by Revolution’s superior take on salsa, “pico de gallo”. Olives are fleshy and avoid being too salty; sunblushed tomatoes are exceedingly juicy and the houmous has a thick texture but is surprisingly light and has a pleasing zesty lemon taste. Chorizo Crisps live up to their name and Serrano ham is cooked to perfection, satisfying meat-eaters while exceedingly lightly grilled flour tortillas and modestly-garlicked dough balls help mop it all up.
Tracy Chapman plays in the background and the sun shines in through open patio doors. It’s not only a day well-suited to summery dishes but one for sipping cocktail. Revolution has a good selection of cocktails – favourites like Daiquiris and Long Island Iced Tea are listed alongside their own more intriguing creations. Torn between the amusingly-named Del Boy and the rather apt Little Miss Sunshine, I seek advice from our quick-footed waitress. Sarah is more than happy to help and enthusiastically points us towards her personal favourites.
Despite a well-known dislike of Prince and anything associated with the “Artist Formerly Known As…”, I’m glad I took Sarah’s advice when my Purple Rain arrives. As a guzzler, I’m also relieved when she returns shortly afterwards with my linguine, welcoming a distraction from my swiftly diminishing drink. I’m pleasantly surprised when my chicken and crispy bacon linguine (£8.95) turns out to be one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a long time, easily rivalling those of specialist Italian restaurants. The asparagus, pea and pesto sauce is creamy but not too thick, lightened and made all the more tasty by complementary rocket leaves. The vegetarian version is just as memorable and includes tangy sunblushed tomatoes (£8.95).
We’re almost too full for frolicking in the sun but as the temperature drops, the dessert menu tempts and we can’t resist ordering a Revolution Chocolate Mess (£4.95) to share, thinking we’re being conservative. When it arrives, I can’t help but ask if this is the normal size for one diner and Sarah seems amused, telling us all Revolution sweets are hefty and that it’s common for customers to just order a dessert and a drink. Looking at the enormous mess of chocolate and chantilly cream in front of me, I can understand why. Although slightly sickly, it’s salvaged by meringue pieces and chocolate brownie chunks conservatively placed. Admitting imminent defeat, we fish around for the hidden treasure and are grateful Tuesday nights are quiet.
Past experiences of Revolution on a Friday or Saturday evening have left me keen never to return but today I’m impressed. Even if the bar area is characteristically busy, dinners can avoid the mayhem in a large curtained-off area. Waiting staff are helpful without being intrusive and keen to make useful suggestions. If you’re looking for a summery atmosphere and a great deal then Revolutions’ Monday 50% off deal should be enough to lure in even the most skeptical. It’s certainly enough to get me back – if only to “re-try” their linguine or perhaps even sample one of their equally tantalising year-round dishes.