Located in the Shoreditch Town Hall, the Clove Club is the second restaurant from the chaps behind Upstairs at the Ten Bells. I’ve been meaning to visit ever since it opened but it somehow slipped by me, so I was really excited for our dinner.
We were seated in the dining room, where only a set menu was available, priced at Â£55 for eight courses. We could have chosen the bar area which serves an a la carte menu but we wanted to do the whole kaboodle and get the full experience.
It was a beautiful yet simple space with plain white walls and lots of wooden things everywhere. The dining room had a really high ceiling yet with some well placed and subtle sound proofing, it didn’t feel cold, sterile or echoey. The addition of a very calm, open plan kitchen gave the room a really lovely atmosphere.
As is often the case with these kinds of menu, a whole host of snacks started proceedings. ‘Radishes, black sesame and Gochuchang’, ‘buttermilk fried chicken and pine salt’, ‘wood pigeon sausages and greengage ketchup’ – all three were exquisite. The radishes, attached to their leafy stems, looked like they’d just been plucked from the ground and they tasted delicious. Who knew a radish could taste so good?! The juicy, succulent chicken was as moreish as the tiny little pigeon sausages – what a great start.
As a gift from the kitchen (don’t shoot! I declared it!), we were then treated to some crispy de-boned chicken feet and a lovely nutty wrap thing – I’ve no idea what it was but it was bloody lovely. The chicken feet were a revelation – like chickeny pork scratchings.
We chose to pay the supplement for the Black Headed Gull’s Eggs (Â£6 each) as we’d never tried them before and they only have a very limited season. I’ve heard them described as ‘fishy eggs’ but I couldn’t detect any flavour of the sea, they were just seriously creamy and gooey. Served with a lovage sauce and celery salt they tasted totally divine. I’m still undecided whether it’s a bit mean to eat Gull’s eggs though! Would you?
‘Flamed mackerel sashimi, rhubarb, turnip and toasted oats’ was a cracking dish. Covering the mound of fatty mackerel, sharp rhubarb and crunchy oats were tiny little circles of turnip, all precision-cut to the exact same size – the attention to detail was amazing. It not only looked impressive but tasted it too; the flavours and textures were dreamy.
‘Butter poached brill, smoked roe, mousserons and mange tout’ was equally as good. Perfectly cooked, soft flakey brill topped with buttery veg – what’s not to like? The next dish of leeks topped with truffle and melted Montgomery cheddar was another gift from the kitchen and it was simple yet perfect; a cockle warming delight.
Our final savoury course was ‘Hebridean lamb, monk’s beard and wild seaweed sauce’. It was essentially a simple plate of lamb and mashed potato but the flavours were astoundingly good. The lamb had a juicy red centre with a layer of soft, gelatinous fat topped with a thin layer of insanely crispy fat – the blend of the two types were heavenly. Drizzled over with a mustardy seaweed sauce; I was bowled over. It was also served alongside a mouthful of lamb heart kebab wrapped in a pancake – I mean – WOW!
All three desserts were brilliant (there was another gift thrown in there). They weren’t too sweet or sickly which was most welcome after such an epic meal. A zingy Amalfi lemonade mousse with a subtle black pepper ice cream certainly livened my senses. The raspberry Cranachan was a great blend of textures. The little quenelle of chocolate ice cream with a coffee flavoured jelly and biscuit crumb was probably my favourite, as I love a bit of chocolate, but they were all great.
If that wasn’t enough food, the petit fours were a course in themselves. Warm little sponge cakes similar to Madeleines served with a tangy rhubarb compote, homemade chocolates and little alcohol sweeties were all, quite simply, to die for. The final flourish and a glorious end to a glorious meal were some little liquid chocolate cookies topped with sea salt. As they were served fresh from the oven I could have eaten hundreds of the things.
Blimey, that has easily got to be the best meal I’ve eaten this year so far – I couldn’t fault the food in any way. Service was equally impressive too with passionate and friendly staff making the experience a truly unforgettable one. I loved Upstairs at the Ten Bells and I now love Clove Club – two outstanding restaurants.