Luca, Clerkenwell

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 (£4.50) which are more of a savoury churro. They’re crisp and slightly greasy in a hangover-curing kind of way. Fennel salami (£4) has a soft, spreadable texture. Again, slightly greasy and ruddy lovely.

Rolls of red wine cured Hereford sirloin (£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 (£11), a similar shape to penne, is a perfect vehicle to load up the sausage and tomato sauce. Cannelloni of calves head ragu (£11) is a beefy treat; like the best lasagne you’ve ever eaten. Ravioli of pumpkin and chestnut (£12) is super light while the sage emulsion and parmesan adds some richness.

Hebridean lamb chops (£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 (£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 (£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 (£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.