Qype: Carnevale in London
As a lifetime steak enthusiast it has taken me many years to reconcile with the idea of going to a vegetarian restaurant, and on the various occasions I have done it’s usually worked out pretty well, although with the thought, “Perhaps there’s still time to grab a burger on the way home” making its presence felt.
Carnevale on Whitecross Street is a different kettle of mung beans entirely.
Everything on the menu sounds tantalising, but without the normal sense of “ah, that’s a dish that normally has meat in it”. The starters we had of Goats Cheese Parcels served with Orange and Almond Salad, and Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach in Roasted Garlic Cream were nothing short of spectacular, and the portions were just enough that you didn’t feel underserved or overstuffed.
The decor’s not going to win any awards, but the place displays no pretensions of any sort – it seems that the business of Carnevale is purely serving up amazing food. When we asked the host how long the restaurant had been open, he said “About 15 years”, so clearly it’s an approach that works.
Sipping our very tasty Chianti & chatting away in the homey low-key environment, I was delighted when my main course of Chickpea, lentil & spinach curry arrived, which comes served with halloumi & fig kebabs topped with a yogurt & mint dressing. WOW. I love halloumi, and I’ve had some really nice bits of it in the past. I’ve no idea what these people did to this halloumi, but it was the best I’ve ever had. In fact the whole dish was so spectacular that I had the same thing the next time we went back there.
It was so good it almost seemed a pity to dismiss the sumptuous aftertaste with the first mouthful of creme brulee. Almost…