It is easy to walk past Caffe Caldesi and think that it is just another coffee shop catering to the well-healed shoppers on Marylebone High Street. However, pay a little more attention and you will notice it is packed and buzzing; smart waiters in starched white shirts and black aprons deliver delicious smelling dishes to eager customers, whilst other people huddle near the door or bar hoping for a table.
Caffe Caldesi offers two distinct dining experiences; the caffe on the ground floor resembles a traditional Italian caffe bar with a long bar and a few wooden tables with comfy chairs scattered carefully throughout the space. It is casual, cosy and friendly. Go upstairs and you are greeted by beautifully laid tables, with crisp white linen, gleaming cutlery and sparkling glass, arranged gracefully in a beautifully airy room flooded with natural light. It is elegant and relaxed.
The food is good, showcasing Italy’s regional cooking. The ingredients are fresh and the dishes have plenty of character. The sea bass arrived on a bed of green beans and pan softened cherry tomatoes and the fish was cooked beautifully, moist and flaky. The homemade Lasagne wasn’t much to look at but looks can be deceiving and that was certainly the case here, it was delicious. It’s hard to imagine something that is predominantly beef and tomatoes can taste so good. The homemade linguine was delicious too, melting in your mouth with just the perfect amount of tomato and cream sauce that wasn’t too rich. The wine list is comprehensive, it is all Italian with plenty of choice and the knowledgeable staff will happily help you find the perfect wine to accompany your meal. The desserts are good too, simple and memorable.
However Caffe Caldesi seems to divide people, cast an eye over the online reviews and comments and you will see people either love it or hate it. In our opinion it is well worth giving this little eatery a try and make up your own decision.
Footnotes and credits: This is an independent review; the writer dined as a mystery guest and paid for the meal. Photography is from Caldesi’s website.