'M not quite sure why, but I rarely think of hotel restaurants when I think of impressive foodie credentials.
But wander through the doors of Swansea's Village Resort Hotel and first impressions are always rather good, I think.
Decor is surprisingly chic and understated with its carpeted floors, cafe-au-lait coloured walls, leather banquettes, comfy chairs and contrasting lights. It offers a comfortable, laidback feeling and is a bit of an elegant haven from the incessant traffic of Fabian Way outside. So all in all, I reckon a pretty good start.
We bag ourselves a table in prime people-observing spot at the mouth of the low-lit restaurant and wait for food and wine to start rolling.
It's a Saturday night and the place is, if not buzzing, surprisingly full. There's lots of comings and goings to keep us engaged while we mooch.
It's at least six months or so since I last visited. Not much has changed, it has to be said at least in terms of style.
But hang on, one thing actually has. For instead of the old Verve grill format which I have to say I loved on my handful of visits here, this place has now been re-branded as an Italian: Vinny and Vito to be precise. Why? Well, I rather gather the big cheeses at Village like to ring in the changes in the dining department every now and again. The challenge, I suppose, is to keep customers returning. So for the present time, Italian it is. Belissimo!
We just miss out on its bargain-like pre-7pm early doors menu with one course for £8.95, 2 for £10.95 and 3 for £12.95. We decide to break the bank and warm up with some garlic bread and olives. "Pop a few more of the green ones in rather than the black,'' I plead with our helpful waitress.
She duly obliges. Next? Well, options such as breaded chicken with mozzarella and prosciutto at £12.50; Bucatini con Polpette meatballs with spicy sauce or potato dumplings served with fresh tomato sauce all beckon. But I eventually opt for Spaghetti Carbonara with smoked pancetta and parmesan ham at £8.95; my dining partner, a pizza Fiorentina made up of spinach and ricotta cheese with garlic, nutmeg and egg, again at £8.95.
Both are good, flecked with great seasonings with a side salad we have as an add-on coming with a brilliant zesty lemon dressing. To go with it all, a 500ml carrafe of Satellite Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough at £18.95.
Next up, our shared dessert of pannacotta with fruit compote finished the meal. Yes, I know, we could barely find the space and yet we still managed to round it off with one of their signature liquer coffees too.
The courses were well-paced giving us time to enjoy the night and watch other dishes winging their way to seemingly happy diners.
Flavours weren't too exotic or off-the-wall. And for sure, Vinny and Veto's isn't really about fine dining, but really, rather good Italian food. It's also about a relaxed style of dining where you can go. say, a couple of times a month and where you don't feel like you have to get dressed up, or feel pressurised into having a three-course meal when all you really want is something a bit lighter.
Simple, comforting food that is also actually pretty affordable. And you know what, these days, that's actually rather welcome!