Monday, 25 October 2010

Ristorante Carola, Lee Green: restaurant review

Just down the road from Kidbrooke is Lee Green, centred on the crossroads. Blighted by cross-channel traffic, the 1960s-era Leegate shopping centre and a poorly-positioned Sainsbury’s, it will never match the village ambience of neighbouring Blackheath but does have a number of attractive restaurants worth visiting.

The most popular of these is Villa Moura, a Portuguese restaurant that serves hearty fish dishes in a friendly, homely atmosphere. Nearby is a rather excellent Thai - Ratchada, a long-serving Greek Restaurant- and the new arrival, Ristorante Carola.

I went to Carola for the first time last week in the hope that it can match the standard set by its near-neighbours. The new restaurant has turned what was the rather bleak closed-down post office building into a bright, bustling space. 

So it was with hope and expectation that I went in. It was a Saturday night and full. A mixed crowd: someone celebrating their 50th, an older couple, a pair of young blokes on their way through to something more exciting.

A local Italian restaurant should do a number of things well – it should be friendly and noisy, while the food should be tasty and straightforward. Carola’s canteen-style restaurant space, combined with an open-plan kitchen, means it had a welcome buzz, and the service was attentive but not excessive. The house red was excellent, and the starter - a cheesy garlic bread - was the best I’ve had for some time.

Onto the mains, I went slightly off-piste and ordered a paella. It was good but not great. My dining partner went even further off-piste and ordered an Asian-style seafood course. This was less of a success, and carried an all-pervasive taste of Worcestershire sauce, while the tomato sauce seemed to be just a few chopped tomatoes. 

Fortunately, they knew how to serve a big cheesecake, and were more than happy to offer to take the offending main course off our bill. Overall I left impressed with our new local, and pleased we only had a short walk to get home.

Ristorante Carola, 151 - 157 Lee Road, Lee Green SE3 9DJ (Bus route 178 from Kidbrooke Station) Phone: 0208 617 3544

Tom is a journalist who's lived in south-east London for most of the last decade.

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