Caffe Concerto in Westfield is an Italian restaurant and Cafe that provides a range of Halal food, this review will let you know if its worth the visit and what kind of evening you can expect. How does it compare to Meat and Co?
Caffe Concerto is a chain restaurant, we visited the Westfields branch which is situated in the “Village”, an area of designer boutiques just off the main shopping area. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and comfortable, the seats and table are plush and a nice height.
The atmosphere reminds me of Paris for some reason, I think it might be the busy ambiance and decor, the live music also gives the impression you are in a classic film! I know some Muslims may get a bit up tight about music, but we are not talking about Madonna or Britney Spears immoral rants, this is some light piano background music that I felt made the evening a bit more special. The diners are quite mixed, its common to see lots of diversity in the restaurant, however its not really the place for kids, the ambiance and food just do not lend them selves to that.
If you want to hear the Ambiance with the piano playing in the background, here is a recording of how things sound in the restaurant.
The menu is a fairly safe affair, with much of what you would expect, I would say the main menu is nicely diverse and all but the newest dinners will recognise most of the dishes. The starters was ok, nothing much grabbed me, I felt like some dough balls with garlic butter, but they didn’t seem to have that. They do include some food which some may consider not halal, for example squid and Calamari etc, so if you are planning to avoid these, don’t order the sea food platter.
In the end we went with bread and olives, which consisted of finely chopped black olives and a selection of flat bread and ciabatta with olives and tomato baked in. It was ok, the bread was nice, I would have preferred some whole pitted olives as well, and some kind of sauce or liquid to dip the bread into. There seemed to be quite a delay in between ordering and the starter arriving, which I felt was a little too long.
The main menu is more exciting with the prospect of delicately cooked meat and vegetables, I was keen to see what the chefs could do. The food is a continental style, so there are no curry or kebabs here, this is not the place to bring a traditional Asian or Arab person who only eats “their food”. We ordered the Lamb shank and the Grilled Salmon Steak, the food arrived about 10-15 minutes after the starts, which is about right. The food was well presented and generously proportioned.
The Salmon was finished with a butter lemon and dill sauce and a selection of Asparagus and sauté baby potatoes. The potatoes were excellent, soft and fluffy, perfect for absorbing the flavor of the Salmon and accompanying sauce. The Salmon itself was tasty, having a crispy textured finish on the outside and soft, light interior, it was everything I hoped. The sauce was nice, but I wish there were a bit more, as you can see from the photo, it barely covered the top of the salmon.
The Lamb Shank is a tradition affair, big mash potato, big piece of Lamb on the bone and chunky vegetables as a side. Again not quite enough gravy / sauce but maybe we just prefer more than the average person?
The lamb was succulent, soft and full of flavor. The vegetables were lovely and soft, however, when you are getting towards the end of your plate, the bland nature of the mash and carrots needs the sauce, so the lack of sufficient gravy is an issue.
We were quite full and decided to skip desert for the time being, we went for a walk around the shopping center and noticed there is a smaller Caffe Concerto with some deserts and teas/coffees. We ordered a pot of Early grey tea and a strawberry sponge cake. The tea was as you would expect, the cake was light with plenty of real strawberry on top and soft sponge and cream inside. Looking back we should have tried the Gellato ice cream which is something they appear to specialize in, so that is something to think of next time.
Overall the food and atmosphere are good, we paid about £40 for 2, which was for 1 starter, 2 mains, 1 soft drink and 2 tap waters. I felt this was good value and its easy to sit back and chat and suck up the ambiance and feel like you are in Paris, Rome or Barcelona. The downsides was the slight delay in the starters and we felt they were a little less than generous with the sauces/gravy. Caffe Concerto is still a great place to go out and eat, and as mentioned above, as long as you realise the food is continental and there maybe some (fantastic) live music, then you should enjoy your self. Compared to Meat and Co, this is smaller, more intimate, cheaper and slightly less formal, the food is almost as good, I didn’t try the steaks here, which I expect is where there could be some differences.