May 10 2013

Clove Club, The


This week I have visited some of the best restaurants in London and in general had 3 unforgettable meals in Hedone, Corner Room and The Clove Club, and I found the food extremely good in all of these places, but out of all the restaurants The Clove Club scores a tiny bit below the other places because I found the portions quite small which left me hungry at the end of the meal and also because out of all the places it seemed like the most expensive for the meal we had, plus the service was not great, but still nevertheless very very good.

I recently went to Upstairs at the Ten Bells and absolutely loved it (MMMMm), and so when I heard some of the people behind this (Danny Willis, Johnny Smith and head chef Isaac McHale, you can see him in the kitchen photo, the guy on the right hand side with glasses) had left and opened another venture, The Clove Club, I was super keen to go. I booked this venue for myself and 5 other friends for a Friday evening to celebrate my names day (very important day in Latvia), and The Clove Club was so busy even though I called 1 month before my names day, they could only offer me a table at 6pm (until 9pm) which shows how popular this place is. I also really liked the main chef Isaac McHale, he was very nice when he was presenting and explaining the food to us, and also he saw a book on Noma on our table that my friend Lasma gave me as my names day present, and he was telling us that Noma’s René Redzepi, the Ledbury’s Brett Graham and many other top chefs had been in the restaurant the week before and had a very similar menu to what we were having tonight.

The Clove Club is named after Daniel and Johnny’s eponymous supperclub in Dalston and is located in one of the most beautiful and sophisticated buildings in Shoreditch, in the Shoreditch Town Hall. It is an Edwardian building, built in 1905 and no longer an acting Town Hall but used by the Shoreditch Town Hall Trust. When you walk into the Clove Club first there is a bar, where I found my friends sipping cocktails and patiently waiting for me, when I arrived a few minutes late, where you can eat smaller dishes, and further down there is the restaurant. The restaurant seats 40 people on wooden tables and chairs and there is an open style kitchen on one side where if you are bored you can watch the chefs cook and plate up their amazing food. In the restaurant you can only opt for a tasting menu which costs £47 and offers you 3 snacks, 4 larger courses and 2 deserts and all the food is cooked with British ingredients and produce, using sometimes overlooked ingredients. The menu that we were presented with also gave an option to have another snack “Gull’s Egg, celery, buckwheat & lovage” for £6 supplement, and as we did not want to miss this, we went for this, bringing the total cost of our tasting menu to £53. Note a lot of the reviews of The Clove Club say this place is super hipster with chefs with beards working in the kitchen, but I personally did not feel a very hipster vibe.

Despite the fact we should have got the bread at the beginning of the meal, the waiters did not bring it, despite my friend Love asking for it many times, and it only arrived in the middle of our meal. It was nice, brown and tasty bread, but nothing out of the ordinary. The Clove Club throughout the meal actually reminded me a lot of Noma, because in Noma half the meal consists of little snacks you get at the start, and the first 4 courses in the Clove Club were small and different snacks, literally 1 bite things, for each of us. The Clove Club was also a bit like Noma as it was using ingredients you had not heard of before. The first snack was “English asparagus, black sesame & gochuchang”, and the waiter brought us 5 asparagus, one each with gochuchang sauce, which is a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt, and also topped with black sesame. The dish was amazing, the asparagus dipped in the sauce and with the firm and strong and crunchy tasting black sesame were extremely delicious and also just a beautiful dish to look at with bright colours. The asparagus was brought to our table at the same time as the “Smoked old spot pancetta”, the next snack, and the pancetta was nice but the least impressive and memorable dish we were served there, as it was just pancetta. The third snack was the £6 supplement Gull’s egg dish, and they brought you 5 eggs topped with celery and buckwheat powder and with a lovage (which is a plant) sauce, and with the dish they also brought you a story about black gull’s eggs that they said one of us should read. My boyfriend did attempt to read it, but as we were hungry and just wanted to eat the gull’s eggs and as the story was so long, we did not finish reading it, but at the time of writing this, I have read the story and it talks about the supply and demand of seagull’s eggs throughout the last hundred years and about how difficult it is to source them now. The gull’s egg was delicious and I enjoyed eating it with the bright coloured lovage sauce. It seemed quite similar to normal egg, just tastier and the yolk was runny, but not too runny, perfect dish, and even though this egg cost £6, it was worth it. The last snack was “Buttermilk fried chicken & pine salt” and I have had this before in Upstairs at the Ten Bells, and this dish was exactly the same in the Clove Club and is one of my favourite dishes in London of all times. The only problem is that I only got 1 piece and I wish there was a la carte menu so I could order more of this chicken

After our 4 snacks we moved on to larger courses and the first main course was “chilled courgette soup, smoked fish, crème fraiche and Indian spices”, and whilst I thought the smoked fish was excellent and I loved the Indian spices, this was probably my least favourite dish (after the pancetta) and I left all the crème fraiche uneaten. The second larger course was “Jersey Royals, Monk’s beard & devilled crab” and this was sensational, and Lasma said this was her favourite dish of the whole meal. I think the picture does not do this dish justice, the crab with the sauce and the tender potatoes and the crunchy monk’s beard was just unbelievably tasty. The last larger course was “Slow cooked rack of lamb, spinach, anchovy & mint” and all of us really enjoyed this but all of us agreed that there just was not enough meat, and we would have loved to have a bigger portion. The portion looked beautiful, the lamb was extremely tender and delicious, and everything worked.

After our savoury courses I was still feeling very hungry, and even Love who does not seem to eat a lot was complaining that there was not enough food, but it was time for deserts. The first desert was “strawberries & cream” which despite the plain name was tasty and consisted of strawberries, cream and a crunchy biscuit. The next desert was “prune ice cream, kernel and rosemary sorbet & walnut cake crumbs” I liked it and the flavours were nice, but not one of my favourite deserts. And even though on average the deserts were good they lacked the wow factor that the savoury food had. As it was my names day the restaurant gave me small chocolate biscuits and a candle that I could blow out, and these biscuits had a nice crunchy base and a soft top and were covered in chocolate and were lovely, and I had two as I was so hungry.

After the dinner we ordered some coffee and tea and my tea did not arrive with everyone’s drinks, so I had to ask for it one more time, and when it finally arrived with a long delay so came the bill and the manager of the place said the next people are here and we need to pay and go. I did not like this gesture, especially as they had taken such a long time to serve food during our dinner and then to serve the tea and coffee and then to rush us all out like this at the end was not great. This combined with the fact they did not bring the bread in time and other small details leads me to think the service is too chaotic. Because of the service, the price we paid (£90/ person in the end, which is not cheap, and similar food these days can be found cheaper, like in Corner Room), and just the small portions which left us feeling hungry, this place gets MMMM, even though some of the dishes were sensational and 5Ms.

Date: 10/05/13
Location: Shoreditch
Price for 5 people with alcohol, without service charge: £398, and we left £50 service charge

The Clove Club on Urbanspoon

Maija rated: 




The Clove Club
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, EC2A 3BE
United Kingdom
Clove Club, The Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4