Came down to the big smoke in 2014 to try a couple of the new kids on the block that were creating a stir. In a nutshell I loved the first more down-to-earth place but felt ripped off by the second more pricey establishment.
As a consequence I’ve virtually given up on high end eating in London as it’s so hard to get value for money. Yes the quality is there but you have to pay through the nose for it, and I know I can get better food for a fraction of the price on the continent. But then that’s London for you…
Lyle’s (Advanced A) , Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St, www.lyleslondon.com
The no-choice set menu was a good deal at £39 for 7 courses with extras like bread, water and petit fours. The menu is constantly changing depending on what’s available that day. I came here in October 2014 with my buddies Tom and Toby. We had:
Squid & Tomato
Middle White, Pumpkin & Chestnuts (Middle White is a rare breed pig from Yorkshire)
Pear, Wigmore & Walnuts (Wigmore is a soft sheep’s cheese from Berkshire)
Plums & Vanilla Ice Cream
Les Clapas Cote de Rhone 2012 (Garnacha/Syrah blend)
I was having fun so didn’t take any notes but it was all B+/A as I remember. Décor is all white ceramic tiles which complements the simple, practical feel of their food philosophy. Service was friendly and efficient and we were able to take our time over the food. Would definitely go again.
Clove Club (Advanced B), Shoreditch Town Hall, Old St, www.cloveclub.com
I came by myself and had the £65 set menu (plus a supplement of £12 for the scallop) for which I got 6 courses and 3 extras, and the wine matching for an additional £50. The menu stated:
Wild Irish Trout Tartare, Citron Baches, Sesame & Chives
Raw Orkney Scallop, Hazelnut, Clementine & Perigord Truffle
Cornish Pollock, Peas, Ham, Morels & Wild Garlic
Slow Cooked Black Faced Suffolk Lamb, Wild Seaweed & Spring Cabbage
Amalfi Lemonade & Sarawak Pepper Ice Cream
Warm Blood Orange, Ewe’s Milk Yoghurt Mousse & Wild Fennel Granita
nb Perigord truffles are named after a region in France famous for black truffles.
However there were several free extras, such as a short section of sausage, Longanzina I think, a piece of fried chicken, and a freshly baked Madeleine. I also added a cheese board to the bill. I can’t remember that are in a couple of the pics, but I do remember it was all very good!
Again no notes were taken, but everything was excellent if occasionally over presented (like the single piece of fried chicken in a basket of pine twigs, what the hell?). They make their own bread and even have a specialist citrus supplier.
All the wines were very big on the nose but didn’t seem to linger on the palate as long as you’d think they would. I also noticed this at Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds so perhaps it’s becoming a trend to serve more pungent wines.
Service was friendly and efficient but the next morning when I reread the bill I was disappointed to see that I’d been upsold a glass of wine that cost £22 just by itself. If I’d been told the price before I had it I’d have refused it, or at least savoured every valuable drop.
I can’t even remember what the name of the wine was, but here are some of the others:
La Morandina, Moscato d’Asti, 2014 is £12.50 a bottle from here.
Richard Leroy’s ‘Les Noels de Montbenault’ Chenin 2011 was unavailable on the net but the 2013 is around €30 on this French website.
Solera 1842 VOS (Valdespino) is a medium sweet Oloroso blend from Jerez. What’s known as an ‘Oloroso Abocado’. Gets 4 stars on this wine tasting website.
Clos Thou, Supreme de Thou 2010, Jurancon France. Complemented the dessert fruits I had but a review suggests that it’s not best drunk on it’s own. The 2014 is €17.50 here.
Service was also 12.5% which although the industry standard in London, is pretty hefty for a provincial like me in a place like this. The total cost of £175 left a sour note on an otherwise enjoyable experience. I did complain, and was offered a free course next time I came, but I have no plans to go back, even though they now have a Michelin star.
UPDATE: Clove Club now ask that their diners pay in advance, to cut down on losing money on no-shows. It will also hopefully cut down on problems like the one I had.