The culinary adventures of some gluten hating girl in London
The Clove Club has recently opened in Shoreditch Town Hall, and you should go as soon as you can.
In the kitchen is one half of Young Turks, chef Isaac McHale. He’s the chap who used to dish out delicious stuff above the Ten Bells pub.
Food at The Clove Club is simplicity done brilliantly – there’s a big emphasis on fresh seasonal veggies (asparagus, jersey royals) and a few oddballs thrown into the mix for good measure (gull’s egg, anyone?)
The restaurant is two restaurants really. As you enter there’s a minimalist bar with lashings of ambience swilling about the place. Here you can dine on bar snacks and enjoy a cocktail or five. I tried the Gimlet – Kettle One Vodka, Green Tea, Home Made Lemongrass and Lime Cordial. Amazing.
Then there’s the proper restaurant where they serve a five course set menu of seasonal modern British food, beginning with snacky type bits and moving on to more substantial main courses and TWO puddings. The setting is really rather lovely, all high ceilings and open planned-ness. There’s even an open-plan kitchen, so you can watch Issac and his enormous team sprinkling fairy dust on the food, clattering pans about and rushing around in a the usual cheffy type way.
So what of the food? Well McHale says he wants to let veggies shine. He wants to make them the star of the show, allow them their moment of glory before they’re devoured in an unceremonious fashion. And he really succeeds.
First up were sausages of wild pigeon with ten bells ketchup. Little sausages on sticks, if you will. These were fiery, meaty and fab. Then asparagus – perfectly cooked and accompanied by black sesame and korean spice gochuchang, which had been masterfully transformed into Hollandaise. Buttermilk fried chicken was next – hands down the best chicken nuggets I’ve ever tasted. For a £6 supplement you could also try a Gull’s Egg. I did not and will never eat an egg, but those who did made many an appreciative noise as they dismembered them.
The mains then began. Fish kicked it off – Smoked Pollan with chilled courgette soup, creme fraîche and Indian spices. I now realise I have been underestimating the courgette. I never would’ve believed something so tasty could originate from one. I stand corrected. Another fishy main arrived after this – Jersey Royals, Monk’s Beard and Devilled Crab, before the meat put in an appearance in the form of Slow Cooked Loin of Lamb, Spinach, Anchovy and Mint. I will never eat lamb without anchovies again.
Desserts began with strawberries and cream – which actually included poached strawberries, almonds, strawberry sorbet and sheep’s milk mousse, a little more elaborate than the menu suggested. The final installment was a prune ice cream, kernel and rosemary sorbet and walnut cake crumbs. This one was a bit puzzling. I tasted it several times but I just didn’t… get it. Rosemary sorbet is odd, no matter how much you dress it up.
The total cost of the set menu is a rather reasonable £47. Well worth it given the quality of ingredients, setting and skills on show.
The Verdict: You have to try this place.
Gluten Free Friendly? Very. A handful of dishes needed to be altered slightly but they made everything gluten free for me and even supplied gluten free bread. Top marks.