Monday 15 December 2014

The Clove Club, London.

If you visit our capital just once a year as we do, you'd better make sure that you choose your restaurant wisely. The choice is so baffling, so much good stuff, it takes me a whole year to finalise my decision. Last year I give myself 6 out of 10 for effort. Dabbous we find to be massively over-rated and the disappointment lingers. Berners Tavern is enjoyable but as much about the experience and the beautiful room as the pretty decent but not mind blowing food. We're after maybe less established fabulous Michelin star style creative food but on a budget of sorts.
I narrow my choices down but change my mind at the last minute. As good as Barrafina is, I'm sure, I decide that queuing outside in the cold on one of the busiest Saturdays of the year isn't for us. (They have a no booking policy).
After a few very positive recent reviews from local bloggers, (and Volta co-owner, Luke), I choose The Clove Club in Hoxton which it turns out is a wise choice. Coincidentally, all three of the restaurants on this trip recently gained Michelin stars too. It's a great time to visit in my experience as they're very much on the ascendancy.
You enter the restaurant through the grand town hall pillars, past the cold larder which gives off the most gorgeous aroma of maturing meat. You probably wouldn't guess that this is a Michelin star restaurant, the feel is casual and modern with a busy looking open kitchen on one side of the room. We opt for the £55 shorted taster menu as it's lunch time and we have have a big day of eating ahead.
Appetisers arrive, Wood pigeon sausage, greengage jam.
Then a festive looking pine basket of Buttermilk fried chicken, pine salt.  
I rarely order chicken in a restaurant but I would make an exception for this. The hot meat almost burns to top of my mouth but it's worth the slight pain as the crunchy, salty crust gives way to the most flavoursome soft, warm chicken. Little Beetroot crackers with sheep’s curd, next. Then some superb sourdough, up there with the finest bread we've had all year. I warn the waiter; 'as long as you keep bringing it, I'll keep eating it.' I keep to my word on at least four occasions.
 I've got a good feeling about this place, so when the first course proper arrives, Raw Orkney Scallop, Hazelnut, Clementine & Burgundy Truffle, I just know I made the right choice. It is totally superb although perhaps unusual, however, the clean fresh taste of the tender, raw scallop along with the woodland flavours of hazelnut and truffle work so well together.
Cornish squid, tarragon & bacon fat is another doozy too. I can barely detect the bacon fat, but no matter, the squid is so undulating and soft and the tarragon sauce is so delicious, I ask for more bread to mop up the precious green juices.
Roast Sika Deer, Kabocha squash and Kumquat is kind of like the finest steak you've ever eaten, so much rich intense flavour, and the tender texture of the meat beautifully cooked is simply wonderful. 
A week on, Mrs Bacon still regrets swapping this course for cod which she says is very good but this deer is something else. She thoroughly enjoys a fragrant course of Madeira to make up for it.
Both desserts are extremely good too.
Amalfi Lemonade & Sarawak Pepper is one of my favourites of the year. Simple, yet so fluffy and light, the lemonade fizzes on your mouth like space dust and then you get a little hit of spicy pepper.
I also love the Apple Tarte Tatin & Calvados Crème fraîche, in fact it's absolutely perfect.
All four of us are extremely impressed with The Clove Club. The clarity of the cooking seems to suit us down to a tee. The food is extremely assured, it's faultless. It's modern and creative yet not overly so, everything just works so well. The service is extremely efficient (the food came out in rapid succession as I prefer).
We leave slightly dazed, on a food high, (not too stuffed) and ready for the next instalment but the Clove Club is the best start to a food weekend that I can imagine.

The Clove Club on Urbanspoon  *Bill paid in full and costs us £76.50 each including wine and service charge. To see more photos click here.

1 comment:

  1. We've got a London trip in the autumnal offing and 'cos of the vast choice, picking where to eat is proving a struggle.

    The Clove Club may get one of the nods.