The small interior, which seats about 12, helps to create a cosy atmosphere, along with the low lighting, worn wooden tables, and the pleasant sound of quiet conversations. The decor is simple and sparse: Carnevale focuses its attention – and yours – on its food.
When you arrive, staff ask you about your dietary requirements, so they can recommend suitable dishes. If you’re dining before 7pm, you can opt for the three-course set menu – at £13.50, it’s good value for money. Otherwise, with starters reaching £7.25 and mains at £13.50, Carnevale may be more expensive than expected, but the food is reliably good and substantial in size. All dishes are prepared to order with fresh, flavoursome ingredients.
Alongside veggie dishes, there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. The starters include savoury pancakes filled with spinach and ricotta; and young artichokes stuffed with walnuts, lemon, parsley and breadcrumbs. The most popular mains are potato cakes with fennel, lemon and basil, served with a provencal vegetable casserole; a falafel, aubergine and red pepper harissa casserole; and a chickpea, lentil and spinach curry served with marinated halloumi and fig kebabs.
There’s a selection of desserts (the vegan chocolate roulade is a big hit), sweet wines and digestifs. And there’s all the tea, coffee, organic wine, spirits and soft drinks you need. There’s also a small deli at the front of the restaurant, selling pasta, grains and other Mediterranean foods to take home.
If you’re in the mood for hearty food in a homely setting, give Carnevale a try. Given the size of the restaurant – and the fact it’s just down the street from the popular Barbican Centre – it’s worth booking ahead to avoid disappointment.
That’s not all from Carnevale: if you’re passing on a weekday at lunchtime, check out its popular market stall, Saladin, just outside.