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Published: 19 November 2009
The restaurant’s rack of lamb dish
The restaurant’s rack of lamb dish
The Cap fits nicely into the culinary landscape

Matthew Lewin visits the recently launched Caponata in Camden Town and finds a wallet-wounding bill is justified by an authentic taste of Sicily

THE Caponata, which opened in Delancey Street, Camden Town, earlier this year serves very good Sicilian food in a beautifully designed restaurant.
It’s a little pricey at around £33 a head for food, but the quality keeps it just on the right side of the price-versus-quality ratio. It’s also very authentic – and seasonal – with all the food made on site.
The menu includes dishes such as grilled Scamorza cheese with baby San Marzano tomatoes, and spaghetti with grey mullet bottarga (smoked roe) – a speciality of Sicily and Sardinia. Desserts include, of course, cannoli – decidedly wicked pastry rolls with various creamy fillings. (The composer Salieri is said to have been addicted to cannoli.)
We ate in the rather empty ristorante where we were delighted by a little appetiser of pea soup with tomato and crab jelly. We were equally delighted with our starters – a beautifully presented dish of seared scallops sitting on a puree of pea and mint, and a generous portion of tuna tartare with a remarkable basil sorbet.
This indicates that there is a chef here who cares, and knows what he is doing.
My main course was a very good rack of lamb with a fig crust and a little pool of bitter chocolate sauce – the two flavours complementing each other very cleverly.
My chief culinary adviser wanted to order a turbot fillet with Sicilian olives and a pistachio sauce, but baulked at the £20 price tag. Instead she had an excellent pasta dish – black tagliolini with baby squid, mussels and courgettes.
I had a terrific dessert of fresh seasonal fruit (which included fresh prickly pear!) with a little pot of white chocolate sauce. My adviser tried Sicilian lemon cake (polenta, of course) with a prickly pear sorbet – the sorbet was good but the polenta cake was very stodgy. Don’t expect to find these items on the menu next month, since prickly pears are very seasonal.
Our bill, including two glasses of merlot and service at 12.5 per cent came to £75.
That’s the sort of figure that makes you take a deep breath before hauling out the old credit card, but the food really was very good.
And if you still have some energy after a meal like that (ie if you are under 50) you could pop round the back to The Forge live music venue for a bit of jazz.
Or, and this is a right treat, go to the Osteria between 11am and noon on Sundays and hear a string quartet playing classical music. The entrance fee is £7, and another £10 for coffee and cakes.

Beautifully designed Sicilian restaurant with very good food; an informal osteria
in a ground-floor courtyard, and a more formal restaurant upstairs.
Expect to spend around £33 a head in the restaurant before drinks or service.
Rating: 3/5

• Caponata
3-7 Delancey Street NW1
020 77387 5959


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