This is a hard one to write as The Clove Club is number 26 on the World 50 Best Restaurants list and The Ledbury is number 27. I’m starting to realise though that the individual rankings don’t seem to match my personal perception. That’s it though, isn’t it? Restaurant reviews are down to a very personal preference.
We arrive at The Clove Club about 8 minutes early and it’s not quite open. Soon after they open the doors and let us in. We’re quickly welcomed to our table in the front room right by the window. It’s a nice more relaxed atmosphere than The Ledbury and the staff are quick to come up and say hello and learn a bit more about us. It was obvious that they all talked as when a new person came up they already knew something about our trip. Nice touch!
We notice our table is nice and big and has room to spread out. This is nice when you’re taking notes and are used to rather small tables. The dining room smells amazing and once again we have Zalto glasses. We’re given hot towels, offered champagne and the service is on point. We’re booked for the five-course tasting menu, however, have the opportunity to upgrade to the nine course. Since the royal baby has been born and the queen had her birthday the other day we decide to celebrate.
To begin are the snacks, starting with a smoked pike roe, ricotta and genmaicha tea. This is yum! A really nice depth of flavour and we’re off to a good start. Up next is buttermilk fried chicken and pine salt, it’s what you’d expect of a fried chicken, we appreciate the pine salt and presentation though.
Our third snack is warm haggis buns. I’m not sure about this one when I see it on the menu however it turns out to be a nice unintimidating way to serve haggis. Our final snack is a chilled courgette broth and chrysanthemum. It has the full flavour of a pea and ham soup but is made from courgette and is a nice interlude before the first official course.
We’re offered caviar to go with the hay-smoked wild brown trout, toasted almond and watercress which we opt against. As we wait our table crumbs are cleared quickly (something I noticed they didn’t do at Mirazur). This dish really lets the trout speak for itself and I enjoyed it as a beginner course, fiancee wasn’t so convinced.
Our next wine comes up a little too fast, it’s an orange wine and our sommelier comes across as a little cocky, we put this down to the fact he’s Australian. This is served with the morels stuffed with wood pigeon sausage, wild garlic puree and snails. The wood pigeon sausage got a little lost in the flavour of the morels, I liked the crunch of the biscuit on top though.
For our next wine pairing, a selection of small glasses is brought over and we’re invited to pick one. Said sommelier says it’s almost like a personality test. A fun way to get guests involved in their drinks. Our sourdough and butter comes out and it is so good. The butter not so much. If you paired that bread with The Ledbury butter you’re onto a winner. I wonder if the ever do collabs?
Out comes the spider crab “Partan Bree”, I’m slightly intimidated when I see the big shell on the plate however off comes the top and a beautiful foam and crab dish is beneath. This is served at the same time as our sake with rosemary which must be poured for us and we must use two hands to drink it. The crab dish is fantastic, the foam and delectability is sensational.
The sommelier starts to warm on us as the night goes on and he’s actually kind of funny. Even funnier was the waiter who brought out our Hazelwood grilled red mullet who told us of the time he was sent on exchange to Gore. For my international readers, Gore is a very small town in New Zealand that would probably not be the first place I’d send tourists to. The red mullet is quite delicious and the wine pairing works well. It’s a good Michelin starred dish.
The chicken comes served to the table in a big pottery chicken, the fiancee was in the bathroom at this point and I’m told not to open it. Impossible, I feel like a kid at Christmas told not to open my presents! It’s 100-day old chicken, slow roasted nettle and chicken stock reduction. This is served with crispy chicken feet, tarragon emulsion and a Ballentine of chicken thigh. I like how it’s all quite different and every taste is designed to give you a different sensation. It’s also a very clever use of the whole bird. The chicken feet taste like chicken skin and left us wondering how they made it. I was sceptical about this one at first but was actually blown away.
Thankfully our courses ended up a bit more spaced out after the beginning, something that seems to happen at these restaurants, they start out with a bang going super fast then mellow into more of a relaxed experience. Our next course is the 30 day aged sirloin of beef, romaine lettuce and elderberry capers. The braised beef croquette adds another layer that I wasn’t expecting. The dish is rich and decadent. If you want potatoes, beef and sauce cooked up to the nines this is for you.
Our first dessert comes next and it’s warm blood orange, sheep’s milk yoghurt and wild fennel granita. It’s delightful and refreshing, I like the hot and the cold, the yoghurt and the softness of the fruit. The wine is perfect too. Our final official dessert is the bitter chocolate tart and reduced milk ice cream. This would have been impeccable if it wasn’t for the coffee flavour but that’s a super personal preference on my part.
To finish a lovely evening we are offered a selection of dessert snacks and a little something on the house. Peated barley cakes and Dundee marmalade cream, loquat leather and popcorn, homemade chocolates and Dr Henderson’s Bon Bons (with the recipe to make them as well!) the bonbons are meant to cure any ailment and are like a next level creme de menthe!
Overall a delightful evening out. Compared to the others it wasn’t quite there. I’m not sure why. Would I go again? Probably, the food was good, the service was fun.
Here’s my latest World Top 50 ranking:
- Piazza Duomo
- Quintonil (still a very close second)
- The Ledbury
- th equal – Saison & The Clove Club
Next up, Dinner by Heston, I’m excited about this one, especially after having been to The Fat Duck last year.