In my humble opinion, which doesn’t mean a lot, The Clove Club is easily London’s finest restaurant. It was exciting then to hear they were opening a second restaurant called Luca, this time in Clerkenwell, specialising in British/Italian food. ‘Britalian’ if you will.
It’s a deceptively large space. There’s a bar in the entrance with a few tables which offer a separate, smaller bar menu. If you walk in a little further and past the semi open kitchen there’s a gorgeous conservatory. There’s a calm and tranquil atmosphere, perfect for our Sunday lunch visit.
We start with parmesan fries (Â£4.50) which are more of a savoury churro. They’re crisp and slightly greasy in a hangover-curing kind of way. Fennel salami (Â£4) has a soft, spreadable texture. Again, slightly greasy and ruddy lovely.
Rolls of red wine cured Hereford sirloin (Â£15) arrive hugging rocket and bits of crispy potato. It’s quite a simple flavour combination but it’s a most enjoyable one.
From the pasta section, garganelli (Â£11), a similar shape to penne, is a perfect vehicle to load up the sausage and tomato sauce. Cannelloni of calves head ragu (Â£11) is a beefy treat; like the best lasagne you’ve ever eaten. Ravioli of pumpkin and chestnut (Â£12) is super light while the sage emulsion and parmesan adds some richness.
Hebridean lamb chops (Â£24) – who doesn’t love a lamb chop? – is a straightforward dish but spot-on-cooking and sourcing of the finest lamb makes it something rather special. Wiltshire trout (Â£22) is a delicate little thing. It comes with broccoli puree and stalk – the stalk being a surprising star of the show.
For pud, a baked chocolate mousse (Â£8) is only bettered by a prune kernel cream. It’s rich, sweet and devilishly good. Less successful is a mint choc chip ice cream cone (Â£7). Presentation is fun; the upturned cone looks like it has fallen onto the plate but flavourwise, it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessors.
Luca is a really stunning restaurant – one of the nicest I’ve seen for a while. The food is unpretentious and unfaffy – the type of food where flavour comes first and the joy is in the eating. A confident and friendly front of house team are the cherry on top.
Would we go back? Yes.