Caldesi in Campagna Restaurant in Bray
Old Mill Lane, Bray SL6 2BG
www.caldesi.com | Tel: 01628 788500
It was lovely to discover Caldesi in Campagna tucked away in Bray Village earlier this week. Friends had mentioned how good it was but somehow we’d never made it there ourselves despite living just a few miles away. It was a balmy June evening and we were delighted to be shown to the covered garden which is like a little Tuscan oasis at the rear of the restaurant. Settled into our table amongst potted olive trees we were immediately made to feel welcome by our waitress. The menu is fabulous and goes well beyond the usual Italian pizza and pasta showing a love of authentic Italian cooking using sustainable and locally sourced produce.
We had rung ahead to advise my gluten allergy and they were well prepared with menu direction and gluten free bread (served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar). After we had ordered our meals we were offered a complimentary taster, mine a small mixed tomato salad due to aforementioned gluten intolerance and my husband had a delicious fried, herbed vegetable amuse bouche. After seeing the scallops arrive at our neighbours table, I ordered the same. They came served with crispy pancetta and a light pea cream which I was so keen to devour I forgot to take any pics until after I’d eaten most of it! Nigel had Carpaccio of marinated beef with a mustard and lemon dressing which was also very tasty… what’s yours is mine darling!!
Soaking in the atmosphere of the lovely garden – especially as it was such a beautiful evening – it really did feel like we were on holiday; surrounded by hostas and fatsias and something that smelled divine. The wine was superb and the staff charming and attentive. The interior of the restaurant is semi-formal with proper white tablecloths and would be cosy and delightful in less agreeable and let’s face it, more typical British weather. Our host, Giancarlo, attended every table to introduce himself and check everything was ok. He has written several cook books together with partner Katie and many of their recipes are available to try at home. The couple also own Caffe Caldesi in Marylebone which my sister tells me is equally wonderful and a popular cookery school La Cucina Caldesi.
Our mains arrived with a flourish, I went for the Grigliata Caldesi – Grilled king prawn, fillet of sea bream, Cornish mackerel, squid, chilli and garlic served with salad leaves and cooked to perfection. Nigel had the Agnello – a slow cooked lamb as well as a herbed cutlet with potato cake and a rocket and parmesan side. Portion sizes were just right, I didn’t feel too full although definitely no room for pud! Nigel finished off with an espresso and asked for just a small portion of the doughnuts recommended by our waiter. This came served with custard and sambuca jam and looked amazing. Coffee was served with complimentary petit fours.
For a special occasion or a midweek treat, I would highly recommend Caldesi in Campagna – wonderful food, service and atmosphere. When can we go back?