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Review: The Deepdale restaurant with no good reason not to season

Posted on - 12th November, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Deepdale, Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston, What's On in Preston
Marco and Carl picante bread
Let’s just go with rustic

Next up in Blog Preston’s series on the best and worst reviewed eateries is Marco and Carl in Deepdale.

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The absence of an apostrophe and an ‘s’ at the end of Carl is playing merry hell with my spellcheck app, which keeps passive-aggressively trying to correct my grammar. It’s concluded that I must have been eating a meal inside one individual named Marco and another individual named Carl, simultaneously. Incredible breakthrough in quantum physics aside, I don’t want it thinking about how and where we might have entered. Not a good start.

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Knocking around at the bottom of opinions, halal restaurant Marco and Carl has garnered comments such as ‘the only thing worse than the food is the attitude of the staff’, and repeated claims that the meals were ‘cold and tasteless’. 

I took my daughter Ground Zero with me to make up for our ghastly Twelve Tellers experience which, if the Marco and Carl reviews are accurate, was like apologising for a thumb in the eye with a punch in the throat. However, it needed doing and unfortunately she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, like the Fishergate Bollard or Liz Truss.

Read more: Review: Preston ‘Spoons food – quite knife or forking awful?

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As there were so many reviews mentioning the attitude of the staff I was slightly trepidatious, but we were given a warm welcome, shown to a window seat and handed some menus. 

The choice was huge, so it took us a while to decide what to have and the patient server came to take our order three times before we could give it. We got there eventually, and after a short wait our food began to arrive. 

A starter of crunchy fish pakoras for £5.90 was seasoned with curry spices but not overwhelmingly so. It came with a mint dip that we found too vinegary and mint heavy, more like a jar of mint sauce than a fresh mint raita. 

Marco and Carl crunchy fish pakoras
Go on Karen. Spoil your nice, spicy fish by releasing it into a tiny swamp

Another starter of yoghurt bombs for £4.50 – described on the menu simply as Indian street food – consisted of five small, crispy filo type shells with seasoned yoghurt and what could have been spiced chickpeas inside, which were tasty but under-filled.

A third starter of picante bread resembled a stuffed crust pizza that had been half eaten by someone who doesn’t like stuffed pizza crusts, but was still rustically appetising to look at. It was filled with hot sauce, cheese, red chillies and spring onions, but oddly didn’t taste like anything other than chillies. 

The next dish we tried was the loaded chips Mumbai. It came generously topped with mozzarella cheese and chunks of chicken tikka with a couple of slices of chilli thrown into the mix, although the red onions that were mentioned on the menu were absent. It looked great, but was lukewarm, the chicken was dry and there was little flavour overall. 

Marco and Carl loaded chips Mumbai
Looked like a Brazilian carnival, tasted like a wet Monday afternoon in Blackpool

That didn’t bode well for my blazing chicken burger, which surprised us by being the highlight of the meal. The chicken was sprawled on the bun and hanging over the sides like Jacob Rees-Mogg on the Front Bench, and was battered thin, sadly unlike Jacob Rees-Mogg who is naturally slim. That technique allowed a greater surface to be seasoned and breadcrumbed. Unlike the chicken on the loaded chips, this was perfectly cooked without a trace of dryness. 

The salad on the bun was lacking, especially when compared to the photos of the rocket strewn blazing burger on the Marco and Carl Facebook page. Judging by the rest of our deep fried order one might surmise that a lack of salad would be welcome, but I would have at least liked the option to scrape it off, myself. Apart from that it had lots of flavour so we know that someone in the kitchen had access to seasoning. I hope I haven’t got them into trouble.

Marco and Carl chicken burger
A pair of breasts hanging out

I’d chosen to upgrade my plain chips to masala chips, but, like the loaded chips, they too were barely warm, and the masala sauce added a nice colour and a bit of sogginess but no flavour.

The issues of cold, tasteless food that were flagged up most often in online reviews seem to still be unresolved, which is a great pity as that should be an easy fix. The decent quality ingredients and the generous portion sizes are already there (apart from the under-filled yoghurt bombs), but the relentless lack of discernible seasoning let everything except the fish pakoras and the chicken burger down. The use of a stronger tasting cheese like cheddar or feta instead of mozzarella would have been better.

Read more: Review: The Bamber Bridge pub that Hobnails a cheese and onion pie

Like the town in Footloose, Marco and Carl could do with a visit from a Kevin Bacon type character, but instead of just dancing he’s loaded his pockets full of salt, pepper, chilli and garlic to Grande Jeté past the tables, jazz-handing all-purpose seasoning on everything before moving on to the next branch without trying to sign us up to EE if he can manage it. 

Another huge positive for Marco and Carl, and despite the numerous complaints about rude staff and poor service, was that we couldn’t have asked for a better server. They were cheerfully professional, working hard to do everything they could to ensure that diners were taken care of which, along with the cosily modern decor and the good quality ingredients, left us open to giving it another try in the hope that management has taken note of the reviews that so often mention the cold, bland food and acted on them.

Despite the negative issues we and others have encountered, I don’t believe that Marco and Carl deserves to share the same murky plane as venues such as The Twelve Tellers where cheap, frozen and microwaved slurry is served. A few tweaks to the recipes and an improvement in the speed in which the food is transferred from stove to table could make dining there a far more enjoyable experience. 


Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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Have you been inside Marco and come out of Carl? Let us know if you’re still friends in the comments.

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