Restaurant Review: The Carvery
Sometimes things are divinely inspired, in concept… but disappointing in delivery. Car alarms, for example; or diet caffeine-free Mountain Dew.
The concept behind The Carvery is so fantastically wonderful — fresh carved meats stacked and served on artisan bread, it’s hard to believe that the actual reality could live up to the conceptual perfection.
The Carvery delivers. And it even delivers with a cute, catchy logo. With a deep V in the middle, it graphically suggests the sharp edges and knife-work going on inside the establishment. Plus, the occasionally dyslexic will read it as The Cravery: painfully genius.
It’s an order-at-the counter joint, with clean, modern lines. Recent visits have yielded several fabulous discoveries, a skippable option, and one urgent warning.
The fabulous discovery discussion can kick off with the Porchetta Sandwich ($8 – pictured up top), the option that sits at the top of the menu. The sandwich is comprised of a melange of cubes chopped from an Italian styled pork roast. A classic recipe would call for a savory seasoning of rosemary, fennel and garlic. The Carvery’s version features wintery, herbal flavors that certainly hit that mark. The massive pile of tender pork cubes sits inside a crusty ciabatta roll with a little side of fresh tomato sauce. Positively oozing with succulent flavor, it’s different enough on the sandwich scene to make it a destination dish.
As a daily special, the Roast Beef Sandwich ($8) offers long, lean folds of beef with a classic slice of cheddar. It’s good, with a natural accent that sets it above a deli or sub shop.
The Meatball Sandwich ($8) is based on two meatballs of coarse ground meat, seasoned with a mix that has herbal flavors much like that which was appreciated in the porchetta. Like the roast beef, it has a homespun accent, stewing in mild tomato sauce with a slice of provolone.
Pasta Salad ($2) is not usually the subject of personal obsession, But pasta salad doesn’t usually boast slices of plump, fresh shrimp. More than just token bits, the shrimp is in every bite with soft bowties, and a dressing that’s more sour cream than mayo. Uncommonly good.
Even the Beer-Cheese Soup ($3) was notable: strong cheese flavor complimented by the beer base-with bacon and several surprise chunks of chicken. The chicken qualifies the soup as bona fide nourishment, and not just fun food.
On the skippable side, the Vegetable Sandwich ($8) changes daily. The tomato-mozarella version isn’t bad: good tomatoes and fresh, soft wedges of mozzarella along with leaves of basil await inside the ciabatta roll. Still, it’s more of a consolation prize for those who don’t choose the meat.
And the aforementioned warning? This is what will distinguish true sophisticates from the rabble. True sophisticates will appreciate the fact that the porchetta has niblets of pork belly in it. Here in rabble-land, those little cubes of pure, bouncy fat inspire something more along the lines of instant recoil. The dilemma is easily solved with a brief inspection under the bun, followed by a booting of all shiny fat nuggets…
We brought them home in a carryout box for our fancy friends.
The desserts are right there at the counter: the Double Chocolate cookies is a big winner for $2.
You can find The Carvery at 51 East Gay Street. It’s open Mondays through Saturdays from 11am until 2:30pm.
For more information, visit www.carverycolumbus.com.
All photos by Walker Evans.