Husband and wife team, Emily Roux and Diego Ferrari, are behind Caractère which opened in Notting Hill in the autumn of 2018. Emily of course is the daughter of Michel Roux Jr, and Diego has been head chef at Le Gavroche for the past three years, but this is their first independent venture together.
In reference to the restaurant’s name, the menu is divvied up into six character traits – curious (small plates/starters), subtle (veg-focused small plates), delicate (fish mains), robust (meat mains), strong (cheese) and greedy (dessert). Style-wise it’s a mix of classical French with elemements drawn from Diego’s Italian heritage.
You can go a la carte and choose dishes at random but they also have a tasting option that will hit all six sections for £78. We were there for a midweek lunch so just went for three courses a la carte but still managed to get a good spread of dishes between the two of us.
Best of the starters – from the ‘curious’ section – was confit chicken oyster, artfully arranged with pieces of crispy skin and small blobs of smooth smoked parsnip purée, and a rich jus. We also enjoyed an original take on “cacio e pepe” the classic Italian pasta dish but made here with strands of celeriac instead.
Next up was another dish that plays to Diego’s Italian roots, oxtail ravioli with pumpkin and barbucine, a perfect warming dish for the dark days of February in London. A hint of spring was given by the rack of Hardwick lamb, served pefectly pink , and accompanied by multicoloured chard, glazed Rattes potatoes and jus.
We were back in classic French territory for dessert, with choux buns filled with hazlenut cream, and the standout Arlettes mille-feuille, with pink Yorkshire rhubarb, diplomat cream, and sorbet.
As part of of what’s probably the UK’s most revered restaurant family, the pressure was certainly on for Caractère – and we’re happy to say that Emily and Diego have smashed it.
209 Westbourne Park Road, London, W11 1EA