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Chaoitic Cafe Pasta
Cafe Pasta (London)
Member Name: duskmaiden
Cafe Pasta (London)
Advantages: Good location
Disadvantages: disorganised service
In London you are spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants with some cuisines represented more than others. Italians are ten a penny with competition so fierce I would expect an Italian in central London to really pull out all the stops. But that is not always the case as I experienced recently at Cafe Pasta in Garrick Street, Covent Garden.
My friend and I were having a midweek girly catch up and were looking for somewhere to have a bite to eat that was fairly reasonable and was not one of the major chains. Cafe Pasta seemed to tick all of the boxes. Located on the corner of Garrick Street Cafe Pasta has a prime West End position.
Its just a short stroll from Covent Garden Piazza, Leicester Square and a number of the major West End theatres We came across it by chance when we were just having a wander to find somewhere to eat. Its not strictly an independent, as its part of a mini chain with three restaurants in London and one in Stratford Upon Avon.
The restaurant is medium sized situated mostly in the basement of the building with six or seven tables on the ground floor. After perusing the reasonably sized menu outside we ventured inside and downstairs to the main restaurant which seemed very busy. We were immediately sent back upstairs to one of the last available tables very near the door. In a way this was a nice table to have, as it was light and airy and we could easily people watch. I would love to describe to you in detail the décor and style of the restaurant but I am afraid the décor was so innocuous I barely remembered what the restaurant looked like the day after. I have a vaguer memory of dark wood and cream walls but that is about it. It is certainly very cosy upstairs, as th tables seemed very close together. I don't think this restaurant is particularly suited to those with mobility problems due to the steep stairs to the min restaurant and I think that was where the toilets were but can't be sure as i did not use them.
The main reason why we chose the restaurant was we particularity liked the menu. It was a reasonable length with enough choice but not too extensive for it to be over the top. There was a nice balance of familiar old favourite dishes such as margarita pizza, spaghetti bolognase and carbonara alongside some more interesting combinations. Vegetarians are well catered for with 4 out of the 12 pasta and risottos being vegie and half of the pizzas. Prices are competitive with other Italian restaurant starters around the £4-£5 mark, pizzas between £7 and £10 and pastas roughly about £8 or £9 apart from the seafood options which are slightly dearer. Meat and seafood courses tend to be around the £14 mark. There is a separate children's menu and also lunch and pre theatre deals.
We decided to share some ciabatta to start with and I went for the asparagus and ricotta ravioli whilst my friend went for Margarita pizza. I decided to wash this down with a glass of fresh mint lemonade.. Whilst ordering I was not happy that the waiter was trying to get us to order extra things. He commented that the garlic bread was nicer and also asked us both if we wanted a side salad. If we wanted one we would have ordered one in the first place.
Our drinks came promptly a couple of minutes later. I have to hand it to them Cafe Pasta do a very nice lemonade. It had plenty of fresh lemon and mint and the flavours balanced and combined to make a sweet but sharp very refreshing drink. About ten minutes later our main courses arrived before our starter did. Our ciabatta was conspicuous by its absent. We asked where our start was and then told them to forget it. Only or it to appear five minutes later hen we had started tucking into our mains. The ciabatta was nicely crispy on the outside and wonderfully doughty in the middle. There was a nice balsamic vinegar dip to go with it. I found the ciabatta to be useful for mopping up the tomato and a tiny bit of basil sauce that my ravioli came in. My ravioli looked very attractive with about seven or eight fat circular pasta parcels. Unfortunately the taste did not live up their appearance. I played a game of spot the asparagus, as I found the parcels to be very low on asparagus. I was not that impressed with the texture of the ravioli as it was very claggy and I found that even with a large dose of black pepper and Parmesan my dish was still pretty bland. My friend said her Margarita was nice but she had better.
The desserts were your usual suspects with homemade tiramasu, chocolate fudge cake and various ice creams and sorbets all around about £5 (the ice crams perhaps a pound cheaper), The table next to us had a berry topped waffle and that did look tempting but knowing us we would get the completely wrong order. So we decided to go straight for the bill.
The waiting staff seemed pretty rushed off their feet and a bit disorganised. Two separate people asked us if we would like dessert menus an then it took us four attempts to get the bill. My friend heard the people on the table next to us laugh after the fourth exasperated attempt to get the bill. Luckily there was no service charge added on like in a lot of restaurants in London, as we would have refused to have paid it. I normally leave some sort of tip but due to the ciabatta incident we decided to forgo the tip and just pay the £21.40 bill for one drink two mains and that famous ciabatta..
According to their website Cafe Pasta has been around for 25 years and I am sure they will be around for another 25, as they are in a prime location and there will always be a large number of hungry diners through their doors. Whether they get repeat business I am not sure. I will not be going back , as there are so many restaurants in that area I am not going to put up with average food and farcical service.
Cafe Pasta, 2-4 Garrick Street,
London WC2E 9BH (map)
Telephone: 020 7497 2779
Summary: average Italian