What is It?
La Carovana is one of the new housemates at the former Le Planteur location, joining Port Autonomy and The New Boris in the beautiful colonial mansion surrounded by lush garden. Just as the ancient Romans used to host elaborate meals in their homes as a was to establish and maintain social relationships, La Carovana serves up a luxurious feast. In the kitchen, Hawaiian-born chef, Kevin Ching, applies his experience from Paolo Vitaletti’s Roman trattoria Appia, creating elegant Italian dishes full of slow-cooked flavour.
Since it occupies the 1920s villa’s second floor, the dining area is divided among several rooms which can be ideal for group dinners. Sturdy wooden tables are paired with weathered leather directors chairs, giving it a rustic feel that is then offset by bright white walls and modern sunburst chandeliers with exposed bulbs. The wood teak floors add an authentic charm but they don’t do much to help muffle sound, so if you speak above a whisper the entire dining room will know your business.
Their signature cocktails offer a new twist on the classic favourites. To whet your appetite I suggest the Boris Club, a gin based drink with grapefruit that is fragrant with citrus and has a hint of bitterness at the end making it the perfect aperitif. Among the starters we sampled the house cured mackerel which came served on a salad of fennel and orange. The taste was lovely, but the potion of fish was a bit small considering it’s the name of the dish. The egglpant caponata, however, was flawless. Hearty sourdough bread, covered in a generous layer of lemon-scented ricotta, is topped with a savoury avalanche of marinated eggplant, olives, and raisins, and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds for crunch. Our other highlight was the oxtail that had surely been simmering for hours with a bouquet garni because it was extremely juicy, tender and full of complex flavours. Not to be outdone by the meat, the accompanying penne was truly al dente with a dusting of fresh herbs and cheese that balanced the rich oxtail beautifully.
While the food was delightful, the service left something to be desired. There were plenty of polite friendly waitstaff around, but they seemed to all vanish at the same time, right when you need something. They also didn’t quite know the menu well enough to answer questions about the dishes. Hopefully it’s just growing pains and after some more training and practice they’ll be able to catch up to the standard of the food.
wine: $8-10/glass, $40+/bottle
food: appetizers $14-$18, mains $24-$34, dessert: $14-16
tasting menu $85/person (requires min 8pax)