This is my second visit to Caractère. For background and details of the wine list please see my earlier review. This meal began with a selection of canapés. Grissini were home made and the bread stricks were thin and delicate. Tigella bread is a round, toasted bun from Emilia Romagna and here came filled with coppa, a cured and cayenne seasoned pork sausage from Corsica. Finally, a thin, crisp sandwich contained smoke cod roe with lemon and pepper. These were very enjoyable nibbles, especially the tigella and the grissini (15/20).
Veal sweetbreads were crisp, accompanied by assorted heritage tomatoes, pine nuts and thyme jus. The sweetbreads were excellent, with light texture and a crisp coating, their inherent richness balanced by the acidity of the tomatoes (15/20). Risotto used top-notch Acquarello brand aged carnaroli rice, here with girolles, toasted hazelnuts and a red wine reduction. This was lovely, the texture of the rice spot on, and the red wine reduction working well with the mushrooms (15/20).
John Dory was nicely roasted and came with squid, grilled leeks, leaves and a beurre blanc sauce. This was pleasant, the fish being good quality; for me perhaps the beurre blanc could have been a bit sharper with a little more white wine vinegar (14/20). Pork cheek ravioli was excellent, the pasta lovely, and served with peas, parsley, little grelot onions and lemon, whose acidity nicely balanced the richness of the meat (15/20).
For dessert, glazed chocolate bar came with a very nice pecan praline and salted caramel. This was proper classic cooking, with the nuts bringing a textural contrast to the silky richness of the chocolate (15/20). Also pleasant was a dessert of both greengage and mirabelle plum tart with roast almond ice cream and lemon verbena. The plums were not too sharp and went well with the almond flavour (14/20). Coffee here was Musetti, which is a pity, so I drank tea.
Service was lovely and the bill came to £68 a head including corkage. A typical cost per person might come to around £80 a head if you ordered carefully from the wine list. Caractère is a very appealing restaurant, with an attractive menu and very capable cooking. It is the kind of local restaurant that we would all like to have.
Further reviews: 25th Oct 2018