Forty – for me the birthday that keeps on giving. My visit to The Clove Club is my birthday present from a fabulous friend who researched carefully to find a memorable dining experience. This girl did good and so we end up in Shoreditch at a restaurant recently voted number 26 in the top 50 restaurants in the world.
I barely know where to start on this review.
The Clove Club took residence in the imposing Shoreditch Town Hall in 2013 after previously running as a supper club hosted in a flat by chef Isaac McHale, Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith.
Fighting your way through the crowds of teen hipsters on a Saturday night it’s hard to imagine you’ll end up in such a beautiful and serene setting.
The restaurant has a reputation (and Michelin star) for producing creative, ambitious dishes with often overlooked ingredients.
I knew the night would provide me with material a blogger dreams of, but feared the room would be wall to wall of Instagramming hipsters, and I didn’t want to be one of them.
But wrong I was. A couple in their sixties, a father with his tween-age daughter and a couple of well-behaved city boys and their girlfriends surrounded us – not a beard in sight.
The restaurant is split into two – a cosier room where the bar sits (where we were) and a larger room with high ceilings in view of the open plan kitchen.
The staff are polite, chatty, unfussy yet attentive. We’re brought hot towels before we start – a pleasant but unusual ritual.
We’re having a 9 (yes 9) course tasting menu – my friend a pescatarian has a slightly different selection to me. There’s a full vegetarian menu too plus a wine pairing option also on offer.
It’s nice not to have to choose anything, and the experience really puts you out of your culinary comfort zone. More to the point it’s an opportunity to sit back a relax and put your trust is some bloody amazing cooking.
Each dish is explained in an uncomplicated way – some of the ingredients unknown others more familiar.
I simply can’t describe everything we ate – but I can give you some of the highlights from our visit. I’m also going to go over my 3-4 photo rule as this is an exception.
So we start with snacks. Snacks sounds a bit like they could be nachos or Pringles. Small delicacies arrive including a little ball of haggis, a melon granita, crab tartlets and buttermilk chicken served on a bed of pinecones and needles – something I can’t see KFC launching anytime soon.
Snacks aren’t even classed as one of the 9 courses we soon realise – I wish I’d worn my loosefit jogging bottoms at this point. Yes it’s 9 courses but the portions are delicate – free from filling carbs such as rice and pasta.
Orkney scallops, Mackerel sashimi, Hebridean lamb and suckling pig all come and go – each dish as thrilling and anticipated as the next.
At one point the waiter brings over a tray and offers us a snifter of Madeira which is 108 years old. Incredible. At the end of the meal tiny sweets filled with liquid creme de menthe provide a boozy hit to round off the proceedings.
Even the toilets are beautiful and there’s a meat hanging room to peer into as you leave.
But I don’t want to leave – I’d happily sit here to the early hours drinking amazing cocktails.
I feel truly spoilt to have been given the chance to come here. If you’re an adventurous foodie and want something out of the ordinary The Clove Club is simply stunning.