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Taking Orders: Caia

by Abigail Spooner
Taking Orders: Caia
Image: Steven Joyce

Abigail Spooner heads to Notting Hill’s newest dining spot to sample open-fire cooking and a seasonal small plates menu

Where is it?

On Golborne Road in London's Notting Hill, a stone’s throw from bustling Portobello Road and a short walk from Westbourne Park tube station.

What’s all the fuss about?

Given the restaurant is named after the Roman goddess of fire, Caia Caecilia, it’s no surprise that open-fire cooking is at the forefront of the seasonally changing menu. Chef Jessica Donovan (formerly at Dinner by Heston, The Dairy and The Pem) heads up the kitchen and takes influences from across the globe.


Local restauranteurs Rishabh Vir and Tim Lang have merged three concepts into one at their neighbourhood spot: small plates restaurant, wine bar and music venue. However, whilst music is at the beating heart of Caia, the soundtrack is unobtrusive over dinner and adds to the relaxed ambience while we savour our sharing spread of delights.

Whipped feta with black olive harissa & charred courgette and tahini dips
Whipped feta with black olive harissa & charred courgette and tahini dips

What’s the place like?

Caia is split across two floors: the sophisticated and welcoming ground-floor restaurant features velvet bar-stool seating and an open fire kitchen, whilst the dimly lit basement feels more intimate with 70s-style décor, chandeliers and a large retro vinyl collection.

Octopus, burnt pepper and nduja crumb
Octopus, burnt pepper and nduja crumb

What did you eat and drink?

It’s a warm evening and so we opt for a refreshingly light bottle of Provençal rosé. From the food menu, we are first drawn to the tempting snacks section. Dainty shards of crisp chicken skin are dolloped with an umami nori emulsion and topped with peppery nasturtium leaves. They make for a delightful amuse bouche to whet our appetites. Next, a duo of dips – smoky courgette with pink pickled onions and whipped feta with black olive and harissa tapenade – are top-tier dunkers. Chicory leaves, baby carrots and charred black pepper focaccia being the ultimate partners in crime.


From the small plates, the king oyster mushroom schnitzel is spiced with paprika and paired with a velvety plum and chilli ketchup. We are also keen to try the octopus, and it arrives strikingly presented as a single charred tentacle on a burnt red pepper purée. A scattering of nduja crumb adds a welcome crunch and gentle kick of heat. Our final choice on the savoury front is meaty and tender monkfish, which sits on a bed of dhal-like sweetcorn.


The dessert menu is small but perfectly formed. Thinly sliced summer peaches doused in verbena tea with a cooling lemon granita make a light palate-cleansing option, whilst the decadent éclair piped with a tonka bean Chantilly cream and boozy cherries is the definition of a chocoholic’s delight. I can highly recommend ordering both.

Chocolate éclair
Chocolate éclair

Your verdict?

The small plates dining scene is becoming an increasingly crowded market in the capital; however, sharing food simply means you can try more from the menu (suits me). As a music venue too, Caia already stands out from its competitors. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to escape the busy streets of Soho and enjoy the neighbourhood feel of Notting Hill.

Lasting memory?

The airy yet indulgent éclair to end all éclairs…

How to book

Visit for more information.

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