It was with a fair bit of trepidation that I went to Caldo in Queen’s Park for the first time last Saturday: I so wanted it to be good. Partly because it is in walking distance from my home, partly because I had promised myself beforehand that I would write a review of it – which would be pretty awkward if the experience was dreadful: I would have to sneak past the place it in the future, just in case a revengeful restaurateur would be waiting in the doorway to lurch out and bash me one with a rolling pin... Thus I am hugely relieved to report that Caldo on Salisbury road is an excellent restaurant! Phew!
Caldo is located in the former Penk’s, but I believe that it is still the same people behind the restaurant, though it has changed dramatically from a narrow space serving (very good) British cuisine to a slightly larger room serving (brilliant) Brit-Basque food. The menu is a traditionally-ish selection of classic tapas dishes such as shrimp fritters, grilled razor clams, spinach and Manchego croquettas, roast lamb in sherry, chorizo in cider and crispy goat cheese fritters. All made from British produce. The house also offers a range of sherries tailored to accompany the menu.
We were 4 of us last week, and between us we managed to order just about every single dish on the menu of about 20 different tapas offered. The lamb roasted in sherry and served on a bed of white beans was without any doubt the most well-cooked, succulent and beautiful piece of meat I have had in a tapas. Ever. Where ever. Including in Barcelona. I don’t really “do” meat and lamb is really not my “thing” – I see little fluffy, happy animals running around in fields when I’m eating it – but in this case I was willing to ignore my conscience and quell any empathy with the piece of tender meat melting in my mouth.
The goats’ cheese fritters drizzled with honey were so good that we had to have them twice, the croquettas were feather light, the razor clams tasted like they had been dug out of the sand the same morning and the chorizo had soaked up the Galician cider beautifully. The only dish that didn’t quite make it to the same level of moreish-ness was the tortilla; it was a bit dry and lacked a little punch. Only one of us could master a pudding and ordered a white and dark chocolate truffle. Unfortunately for him it looked so tempting when it arrived, that he didn’t have much left of it after we all had a taste of it. The balance of the two types of chocolate was perfect. Another of us ended his meal with a well-shaken velvety, espresso Martini.
I drank a dry and nutty Olorosso sherry which matched the tapas flavours beautifully, while the others had Spanish beer from the tap.The service was attentive without being annoying, the room is warm and cosy and the whole place is devoid of the boho/yummy mummy pretentiousness that often lurks around in Queens Park’s restaurants. We left with a bill that was as long as an arm –admittedly that was due to our gluttony – but very reasonable, considering the amount of tapas, beer and sherry we enjoyed!