SquareMeal Review of
Core by Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth MBE is no stranger to picking up awards – most famously maintaining three Michelin stars at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – and it looks like she’s going to have to get ready for another haul of trophies: this place is “heading all the way to the top” declares one fan, and we agree. Core is cor-blimey brilliant rather than a hardcore, haute-cuisine ordeal, complete with the sort of high-end interiors that covetous Notting Hillbillies dream about – think cute handbag stools, feather-light Zalto glassware and Bridget Riley artworks. Unclothed tables, meanwhile, indicate we’re in casual-luxe territory, with “exceptionally professional” staff showing their passion for the place. Still, no one has come here for the design, and the sight of Smyth directing kitchen operations through a plate-glass wall transmits a thrilling jolt of anticipation for the “exquisite” food to come: a sweet Colchester crab doughnut alongside a glass of crab consommé; even sweeter Roscoff onion stuffed with rich oxtail to accompany beef short-rib; and no end of nibbles including crispy smoked duck wings and jellied eel misted with a malt vinegar spray. Elsewhere, there’s a dish of skin-on Charlotte potato topped with herring and trout roe sitting in a slick of seaweed beurre blanc, while the lamb-braised carrot studded with salt-and-vinegar crisps seems destined for ‘signature’ status. The “fabulous” French-led wine list is also a head-turner, with plenty of fine drinking below £50. Although Core is currently booked solid, you can also eat in the handsome bar, which deserves to become a cocktail destination in its own right.