Thursday, 29 October 2009

Better than Noodel's City.

Caravaggio’s is without doubt the finest restaurant in Camberwell. There’s a bold statement for you, though when you consider that the other ‘restaurants’ in the area are KFC, Noodels City (sic) and Morley’s, it ceases to sound quite so audacious. That’s not to say that Caravaggio’s isn’t a very fine restaurant indeed, combining as it does the holy trinity of great food, great service and great value.

I’ve eaten there several times, with grandparents, with a small group of friends and as last night, in a rowdy party of twelve, and the food and service have been consistently good. I would not hesitate to take anyone visiting Camberwell to Caravaggio’s, and think it a credit to them that they can accommodate a slightly raucous (for a Monday at least) 23rd birthday party with as much ease as a quiet meal for two.

Located halfway up Camberwell Church Street, Caravaggio’s boasts a coffee shop and sandwich bar at the front of the restaurant, with a pretty restaurant and small courtyard garden at the back. The reproductions of their namesake’s greatest works crowding the walls, exposed beams and vaulted ceiling create a pleasant dining environment, though the swirling wallpaper is starting to look a little tired around the corners. The waiters are knowledgable and personable and always keep the wine flowing and plenty of bread and olives on the table. I thought that it was a nice touch that they brought jugs of tap water to our table without being asked; occasionally they will also bring digestifs over after your meal, which is a pleasant surprise when it happens.

Yesterday I chose Caprino Fritti; deep fried goat’s cheese with poached pears and cranberry sauce, which was delicious - though the sheer quantity of cheese was enough to have me contemplating my next gym session.

Next up I chose Saltimbocca which was meltingly tender and robustly flavoured. Despite this, I regretted my choice. Food envy reared its ugly head when a friend wisely chose the Tornadoes Rossini from the specials menu, which is without doubt the finest dish on the extensive menu (and consistently available despite its status as a special). Perfectly cooked filet steak is served in a rich Barolo wine sauce, topped with soft chicken liver pate and served with rosemary potatoes. Having ordered this in the past I can vouch for its deliciousness, it is a remarkably well executed dish, particularly considering the £13ish price tag.

Other fine choices amongst our party were Spicy Turkish Sausages to start, a special of Brie with mango, and a huge portion of plaice with a cheese sauce served with mashed potatoes – comfort food at its best. Pastas can be slightly weak in here, though cheap at under £5 and generous in their proportions, so I would staunchly recommend sticking with the meat or fish options, though the risottos are also very good. A heavily garlicked side-order of spinach was buttery and delicious and sat very well alongside fish dishes as well as grilled meat.

Having washed down our enormous meals with about 38 bottles of wine (or 7, probably) we were presented with a very reasonable bill of £20 per head including service. Caravaggio’s represents fantastic quality and value in Camberwell, and I really hope it continues to do a roaring trade for many years to come, I see absolutely no reason why it should not.

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