|Chilling out at Carvosso's at 210|
Pleasantly detained at the old police station
In the last 15 years, Chiswick High Road and its side streets have almost changed beyond recognition with a seemingly endless number of new restaurants and cafes opening. I remember when eating out was a choice between Topo Gigio, Kleftiko and Fouberts. Now it would be possible to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner out in Chiswick and go for weeks before being forced to revisit a place. So when I heard another restaurant was opening, I wondered where on earth the extra customers would be coming from.
The new kid on the block is Carvosso’s at 210. Located on the corner of Chiswick High Road and Windmill Road, it has spent much of the last year shrouded in scaffolding whilst undergoing transformation from its previous incarnation as a probation office although longer term residents will remember it as the old police station. Three weeks ago it emerged from its plastic mac and was revealed in its full glory as a wine bar and eating house.
It was a particularly cold evening when we visited for dinner and the golden glow from Carvosso’s windows combined with the pleasant staff made for a warm welcome. The vast interior consists of a series of interconnecting areas over three floors and belies the seemingly small exterior.
The restaurant is on one side of the ground floor overlooking the walled garden. Whilst only huskies and arctic gear would have enticed me outside on the evening we were there, I will certainly be braver in the summer. We were seated in one of the wooden booths in the restaurant which reminded me of ski holidays and studied the brief menu.
My starter was a beautifully presented cylinder of crab and avocado bound with mayonnaise, topped with salad leaves and surrounded with tomato and capers and was delicious. My companion made short work of his chicken livers on a blini. The blini itself was bliss : a mere puff of batter.
For my main course I chose the cabbage ball with Stilton and walnuts in a red pepper sauce . Again the presentation was fantastic with a dark green sphere surrounded by a pool of red. The outer cabbage leaf was a bit tough but the inner stuffing was worth the fight and went perfectly with the red pepper sauce. I believe my companion enjoyed his Halibut with pesto and butternut squash on a bed of mashed potato; it certainly vanished incredibly quickly. Purely in the interests of research, we then shared a rhubarb crème brulee with biscotti and that old favourite, sticky toffee pudding. The crème brulee must be one of the nicest I have ever tried . The sticky toffee pudding was a homely wodge of date and gingery sponge surrounded by the stickiest sauce imaginable. We drank mineral water and a bottle of Rampant Red Merlot with our meal.
The starters were priced at about £7.00 and the mains were £11.95 and £16.50. The puddings were a rather steep £6.95 each. At first I was surprised at the high prices considering Carvosso’s bills itself as an eating house rather than a restaurant but the dishes were of an unexpectedly high standard. Our total bill including 12.5% service came to £85.38. Rather naughtily, we were prompted to leave a further gratuity when paying by credit card. The wine list was a pleasant surprise: as befits a wine bar, there was a good selection of reasonably priced bottles starting at £12.50.
And the negatives? The paper menus in the restaurant were a bit grubby. The ladies loo was beautifully done out but completely paperless. (I rather wished I had brought the menu with me.) These blips were all the more surprisingly as the staff were being very closely overseen by managers and the service verged on anxious in the restaurant.
I would have said Chiswick didn’t need yet another new bar and eating house. But the large number of people dotted around at the tables on the top floor would indicate I was wrong. Carvosso’s seems to have spotted a gap in the market for a relaxed bar in Chiswick with no membership needed. If a cheaper and more casual bar menu were introduced, I would certainly be joining the top floor crowd. And then I could find out where all the seemingly endless stream of diners and drinkers are coming from.
November 22, 2006