Tuesday 22 March 2016

Restaurant review: Caravaggio, London

I’m looking at the photo of the starter I ate at Caravaggio and trying to remember what it was – it wasn’t that long ago that I ate there but it’s one of those places that delivers beautifully presented dishes leaving you struggling to remember what it said on the menu, even only ten minutes after you ordered (or is it just me that happens to?).
I’ve resorted to looking up the menu online and decided this must be the Stornoway salmon and sea bass gravadlax with rye bread and horseradish crème fraiche (£9.80) – I’m sure I remember eating that, but when I looked at the picture I thought ‘that’s not smoked salmon and bread!’. The bread isn’t in the picture though and the little rectangles of salmon and sea bass are presented rather differently – the oval on the left is the crème fraiche.
My main course is much easier to remember as it was very unusual – homemade cocoa pappardelle with cinnamon scented wild boar ragu (£15). I’ve had chocolate pasta once before from the Hotel du Chocolat and tried out two recipes, deciding that it tasted better with cream as a sweet dessert (their suggestion as I recall). So I wanted to try it again as a main course and see what I thought. The pasta had more of an earthy flavour than a chocolate one – more like adding shavings of very dark plain chocolate to a dish rather than the sweetness you’d get from milk chocolate. The wild boar ragu complemented the earthiness of the flavours perfectly – I’d definitely recommend trying this if you get the chance.

 The portions weren’t huge and my friend and I both decided to have a dessert, which all sounded very nice but I didn’t fancy anything sweet. Instead I chose the selection of Italian cheese with mountain honey and grissini (£9) which came with a generous amount of cheese, some celery and grapes as well as the honey; though I would have preferred biscuits I could actually put the cheese onto, which of course you can’t do with breadsticks. Eating lumps of cheese then pieces of breadstick separately seems a bit strange somehow but perhaps this is how it’s supposed to be done!

I would imagine a high-end restaurant like this does everything in the proper Italian way – there’s no Hawaiian pizza to be found on the menu for instance! I was meeting a friend after work who came in by train to Liverpool Street Station, so wanted somewhere in that area, and really fancied Italian. It was fairly short notice so it wasn’t that easy to find somewhere I could book that was in the right area, so that’s how we ended up at Caravaggio. We were the only people in there not wearing business suits and the restaurant was more hushed and business-like than I was expecting – it would be good for a romantic meal I think but people at the adjoining tables were probably forced to listen in to my tales of wedding planning and wishing we would shut up!
Caravaggio often has set menu prices or special offers if you book through Open Table, otherwise it is quite expensive (£9.80 for a starter is a lot!) and probably somewhere you’d be more likely to go for a special occasion or a business lunch on expenses than to catch up with a friend where the food is secondary to the conversation.

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