This was our first visit to Caractere and I can assure you now that it won't be our last. Set in the very popular area of Notting Hill on the corner of the Ledbury Road & Westbourne Park Road is where you'll find the restaurant. The site used to be a an old pub but owners Emily & Diego have turned it into a fabulous dining room. We arrived on Saturday and you could see straight away why they tell you to arrive at the time of your reservation as yes there is no bar area. We received a nice friendly welcome before the waitress took our coats and escorted us to our table. Once seated it then gave us a chance to take a good look around. The tables are around the outside walls with a mixture of chairs and long comfortable seats with a few tables in the middle leaving plenty of space to for the staff to move around. You do feel when you look at the tables & lighting that you are in a French restaurant but the walls & ceiling decoration gives it an Italian twist. While enjoying an aperitif we were then given the menu to look at. This is set out in six categories Curious , Subtle , Delicate , Robust , Strong & Greedy. Each section contains three courses apart from the Strong which is the Cheese course. You can choose any three courses if you'd like to have A la Carte or you can create your own personalised Tasting Menu by choosing one dish from each section. This sounded like a great idea to us so that's exactly what we did. After enjoying some delightful snacks & bread which they will bring to you as many times as you like we move on to the first section.
We started with two glorious dishes. The first being a Roast Wild Prawns , Reginette Pasta , Seaweed Condiment & a Bisque and the second a Roast Diver Scallop with Jerusalem Artichoke , Amaranth and a Smoked Veloute. The flavours in both dishes were so amazing we couldn't wait for what was to follow.
Now onto the Pasta section and the amazing flavours didn't stop here either as two more fantastic dishes arrived. The first was a Acquerello Risotto with Girolles , Hazelnuts & Red Wine Reduction. The second dish was the signature dish a Celeriac Cacio e Pepe with extra aged Balsamic vinegar and it was stunning
This is the Fish section and once again two more delightful plates of food arrived and were absolutely delicious. We chose the Roast John Dory , Grilled Leeks , Squid , Foraged Leaves & a Buerre Blanc and the Steamed Cornish Cod , Roast Cauliflower , Caper & Parsley Condiment.
This is the Main course section and there'll be no surprise again when I say that these dishes were definitely the highlights of the menu. The first was a slow cooked Pork Cheek Ravioli with Crispy Kale , Trompette Mushrooms & Wholegrain Mustard Jus. The second was a saddle of Herdwick Lamb , Artichokes , Black Olives & a Jus
This is the Cheese Course where there is only one option a Gorgonzola Dolce with a Baby Leaf Salad & Homemade Seed Crackers. We decided to have one each and so glad we did as neither of us wanted to share
It was now time to finish with Dessert and they were an absolute delight. The Passion Fruit Choux , Craquelin & Chantilly was heaven and the Molten Chocolate Cake with Praline , Salted Caramel & Mascarpone Ice Cream was a chocolate lovers dream. This was matched with a fantastic Giovanni Allegrini Valpolicella Classico 2013 sweet wine.
We finished with an Espresso to round of a truly memorable Tasting Menu lunch which I also personally thought was great value for money. The food was fantastic and this was matched by excellent service and great wine recommendations from our wonderful waitress Antonella who is was a real pleasure to talk to throughout our meal. I would highly recommend a visit as this is a fantastic credit to the London restaurant scene. I for one am already looking forward to returning very soon in the new year