If you were to ask me if travelling from essex to west london to visit Caractere is worth it my answer would be a resounding yes. I say this because saturday was the fourth time we’ve completed this journey. The reason for this is quite simple really because this restaurant is absolutely amazing and where the standards in food and service just keep rising to the next level each time we visit. This was even more evident on our latest visit and why Caractere has become one of our favourite restaurants to dine out in.
So now let’s move on to saturday itself where once we arrived at notting hill we made our way down portobello road until we reached Westbourne Park road where you turn right and in a couple of minutes your at the restaurant. As we entered we were given a delightful welcome by manager Eugenio before he escorted us to our table. He then brought over two complimentary cocktails for us to try. One was a refreshing mocktail and the other was a bergamot martini that really packed a punch but was a delight.
It was then time to meet assistant manager Antonella who also gave us a nice welcome back as then did other members of staff which really gives you a lovely feeling. We were then given the menu which is set out into six categories with apart from the cheese has two courses in each. You can choose between a Lunch Menu , A la Carte or like we have always done go for the adventurous Tasting Menu.
The next thing was to choose a bottle of wine to which I was quite proud of myself as we’ve recently had a wine tasting session to gain more knowledge of wine and in particular french. So with this and a little help from Eugenio we chose a fabulous Crozes-Hermitage Sybele 2018 from the northern Rhône valley that as it turned out was a delightful pairing with the entire menu.
Before the arrival of our first course we actually met Emily Roux for the first time and she really is a lovely lady and was an absolute pleasure to talk to throughout our entire lunch. It was also nice to see her joining the team by bringing out the food to each table. Now let’s move on to the food itself.
The first category is called CURIOUS and here we started with a Crab Tartelette with sturgeon bottarga and wasabi condiment that was absolutely delicious and just a dream beginning. My wife chose the other dish which was an Aubergine Ravioli with sicilian red prawns , samphire and a bisque. You could clearly see by the delight on her face how good this dish was.
We now moved onto SUBTLE and what was to follow was absolute heaven. I allowed my wife to have the signature Celeriac ‘Cacio e Pepe’ with aged balsamic vinegar. This allowed myself to enjoy a truly outstanding dish of Acquerello Risotto with parsley , gorgonzola , piment d’espelette and breadcrumbs that personally will go down as probably the best risotto I’ve had the pleasure of eating. It was creamy , cheesy and with the addition of breadcrumbs sent your palate into orbit.
Now we moved onto the fish category called DELICATE and here we got to enjoy two more fabulous dishes. My wife opted for the Roast Turbot on the bone with crispy potato , foraged leaves and seaweed condiment. For myself I had the Steamed Cornish Cod with petit pois , cauliflower and creamed chicken jus. These dishes were an absolute delight and lightened your palate after the previous course.
Now it was time for the main course ROBUST and where these dishes did that title proud. The roast dry aged Creedy Carver Duck with glazed and stuffed artichoke , red wine jus and the addition of a Duck Sandwich. This was a dish that my wife described as the best duck dish she’d ever tasted. I was left with the pleasure of enjoying the latest version of the Herdwick Lamb. The roast saddle with sweetbreads , courgette , sultanas and crispy shallots was definitely the best version of the lamb dish they’ve created to date.
Next to follow was the STRONG category or cheese course. This was a fabulous selection of french cheeses with homemade seed crackers , apple and prune chutney.
We’ve now reached the finale GREEDY. This is the dessert section where we finished with their version of the Rum Baba with english raspberries. I had the delight of enjoying the Coffee Tartelette with almond praline , “caffe borghetti” liqueur and chantilly a fabulous take on a tiramisu.
We finished with a coffee and petit fours to bring to an end an absolutely fabulous dining experience. This restaurant is really going from strength to strength where the quality of the food just keeps improving with every visit. This is matched by friendly and professional service where each member of staff really does make you feel so very welcome. Now I don’t need to say this but yes I really would highly recommend a visit as I promise you that you will not be disappointed.
Thank You Emily , Diego , Eugenio & Antonella for a truly fabulous lunch and look forward to seeing you all again soon.