Best local Indian Restaurant in Essex 2014
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides
The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories
26 Ludgate Hill, EC4
Tel: 020 7778 0010
Cost: about Â£40 per person at dinner.
While the horrible â70s buildings have come down around St Paulâs and before the (hopefully) wonderful new buildings are on the way up, there are some amazing, if temporary, views to be seen. One useful new addition that is already well into operation, hopefully not temporary, is Percento, part of the Etrusca group that so dominates the Cityâs Italian dining. The ground level bar is a popular pit stop, quite bright and funky, but unusually the downstairs restaurant is the more attractive option here. This is principally because you can not see outside to the (usually) grey, anonymous view across Ludgate Hill and so can imagine yourself somewhere in Italy. Everything about this room says modern Italy â the bright colours, the rather clever backlit glass walls that resemble melting ice (oh so cool), the central serving area, the staff and, of course, the food.
The usual antipasti are on offer â carpaccio, buffalo mozzarella, caponata â as well as some less traditional items like seabass ceviche and venison prosciutto, but the pasta section was sending out its siren call and this is a very sound part of the menu. The penne with crab and rocket in a light tomato sauce was very slightly spiked with chilli and this combined with the bitterness of the rocket to bring out the inherent sweetness of the crab. The nettle and ricotta-stuffed ravioli with saffron, cauliflower and sesame seed sauce would brighten up anyoneâs day, or evening. The pasta had good texture, the nettles gave a pleasant herbaceousness to the ricotta filling and the small cauliflower florets combined well with the saffron and sesame seeds (an influence from the sunny south, perhaps?) worked well as a counterpoint.
As it was cold, grey and wintry, fish got short shrift, but with warmer weather at least three would seem tempting â scallops on a timbale of celeriac, panfried seabass with a polenta crust with saffron fennel and tiger prawns with spinach. For the cold weather, however, venison casserole with crushed potatoes, onions and pancetta was properly rich, homely and warming. Ditto for rack of Welsh lamb with purple potatoes enriched with truffle oil, served with sautÃ©ed artichokes. There is some good cheese on offer, but a hearty meal wants a light dessert to finish and there are good sorbets and a very good house gelato, bergamot, familiar to anyone who has ever sipped a cup of Earl Grey tea. Wine buying shows some spirit of adventure, especially on the Italian side and service is â naturalmente - very obliging.