Restaurant review - Luciano’s, Heath Charnock

STYLISH: Luciano's in Heath Charnock has undergone a transformation
STYLISH: Luciano's in Heath Charnock has undergone a transformation
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Malcolm Morris visited Luciano’s in Heath Charnock and found the eatery had gone up market

The Millstone was something of a letdown for me in its previous incarnation: beautiful setting, large, spacious and stylishly decorated interior and then good but somewhat predictable pub/restaurant chain food which you chose from a plastic menu and had a percentage of re-heating involved.

Nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as it was reflected in the bill. But it did mean, if interesting and tasty dining is to be our goal, that I emerged disappointed.

Now it’s Luciano’s at The Millstone, and has gone up market. All the initial style remains, and the makeover is cooly impressive.

In the little anteroom the water feature has gone, replaced with a table on which champagne bottles in a silver bucket of ice set the tone.

The ivories of a grand piano are being tickled as you enter the bar area and foyer, except that a glance across reveals ... an empty chair. The cabaret bar musak is on auto, and it’s that element of the new theme which provides the one glitch later on.

In the restaurant bright colours have been replaced with soft lighting and light greys and matt surfaces.

The temptation to cram in too many tables has been resisted with the result that each has a nice spacious feel to it.

Plastic menus are out, there is an impressive range of choices and the menu has a refreshing lack of jargon: nothing is assured, or line caught, or nurtured, though we may assume that is the case anyway.

I’m handed a framed specials menu, and from it choose whitebait.

It’s all too easy, I know from my own fryer, to make a mess of whitebait, but fortunately these have been nowhere near my kitchen so prove to be tasty, firm and not too salty, aided by a sharpish tartare sauce.

My loved ones chose Gamberoni alla Lucianos at £7.95, which are three juicy looking king prawns cooked with spring onions, ginger and a splash of sambucca. Maximum thought towards the diner’s dignity, often at risk when the consumption of sea food is concerned, has been exercised as each prawn has been detached from its shell save the handy tail bit for holding, and sliced to open out the flesh for better access to the salivating mouth.

Now that I put it like that I have to concede that the gamberoni probably topped my whitebait, and the word sumptuous is used, and then used again just to rub it in.

The mains prove taxing in that the choice is so good. I could easily have gone for Barbary duck breast served with morello cherries, flambéed in kirsh sauce, or monk fish fillet with cherry vine tomatoes, basil and onions concasse, flambéed in Italian brandy, but settle for Agnello al Barolo rump of lamb in a shallot and red wine reduction, roast garlic and fresh rosemary at £16.55.

These chefs are not abstainers (mussels with vodka, gamberoni with sambucca, pork in calvados and I’ve already mentioned the brandy and the kirsh), so the Barolo added greatly to a delicious sauce in which basked juicy little medallions of lamb with a veritable twig making sure for once that the presence of rosemary was worthwhile. Roast spuds, carrots and cauliflower were especially al dente.

A Risotto allo scoglio of Italian cannerori rice in fish stock with seafood at £9.95 was happy on the seafood but a little stodgy on the risotto, and a Tagliatelle Carbonara speciale of slices of grilled chicken breast with crispy bacon and garlic in creamy sauce at £8.95 was one of those lovely glistening and tasty mounds of pasta. The bacon wasn’t crispy, but was the preferred chunks of gammon.

And the one glitch: a background tape of middle-of-the-road cabaret bar songs which was only fractionally better than the loop of Abba songs we once endured elsewhere.

Factfile -

NAME: Luciano’s Italian Restaurant at The Millstone.

ADDRESS: Bolton Road, Anderton, Chorley.

TEL: 01257 480205

HOURS: Tuesday to Sunday 11am till late.

RATING: 8/10