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92 Kensington Park Road
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.
SquareMeal 4 star
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92 Kensington Park Road
Notting Hill Gate Tube Station 612m
Ladbroke Grove Station 617m
Electric Cinema 346m
Portobello Road 504m
Thurs-Sat 12N-2.30pm Tues-Sat 6.30-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
This was our fifth visit to Core over the past year and have become quite good friends with some of the staff. Also during this time it's been nice to have had nice conversations with Clare & head chef Jonny. This is why last monday I couldn't have been any more delighted that the restaurant gained 2 Michelin Stars along with other recent awards of 5 AA Rosettes & Clare becoming Worlds Best Female Chef. All three awards are so well deserved as the food is outstanding and the service from each member of staff under the guidance of restaurant director Rob is first class. Our visit on this occasion was as fabulous as our previous experiences. We received the usual warm and friendly welcome on arrival then as before decided to enjoy one of their amazing cocktails a Classic Negroni & the Gin & Pickle made by head barman Ale Villa who it's also pleasure to chat to. While enjoying our cocktails it was nice of head chef Jonny to take time out to come and say hello as well as restaurant manager Davide It was then time to seated but not before having a lovely chat with Clare which was nice as we could personally congratulate her and all the team on the recent awards. Yet straight away you could already see that she was very focused on the plans for the restaurant in the future. We were then seated in one of the two booths which are very comfortable and give a fabulous view of the whole restaurant. While enjoying some amazing snacks that included a Caesar Salad and Cheese & Onion Gougeres . The sommelier Gareth asked us about the wine list it was at that point we realised that we hadn't seen a menu to which Rob said with a little smile on his face that Clare & Jonny had created for us a Surprise Menu if that was okay and of course we said yes. With that Gareth recommended a fabulous Australian Chenin Blanc from Mac Forbes to match the first three courses Now it was on to the first course a stunning Sharpham Park spelt with morels , asparagus & wild garlic. This was followed by the amazing Potato & Roe with a dulce buerre blanc , herring & trout roe a dish that should always be on the menu The next two courses were new dishes. We first had a fantastic Sea Bass with Oyster & Caviar simply heaven on a plate. This was followed by an adaptation of the Oxtail Stuffed Roscoff Onion and i have to say it was outstanding Now it was time for the main course and once again the dish was amazing. A fabulous Duck & Nectarine with thyme , honey & timut pepper. This was matched perfectly with a glass of Pinot Noir & Chatteauneuf de Pape. Before we had dessert we decided to have a cheese course which now consists of three cheeses the Colton Basset Stilton , Goats Cheese & Lincolnshire Poacher So now we move on to dessert and we started with The other Carrot with ginger , walnuts & sweet cicely which has now been made smaller to be served as a pre dessert. This led us to the main dessert which was a take on a malteser called the Coreteaser a pure chocolate delight and matched beautifully with a stunning Sweet Wine a Bodegas Bentomiz Ariyanas 2012 with flavours of Orange Marmalade So after coffee and some delightful Petit Fours we decided to finish with another fabulous cocktail in the bar and a nice surprise as head chef Jonny came over to ask how everything was today. This brought to an end to another amazing dining experience at Core and one I'll be looking forward to repeating in the near future So Congratulations once again to Clare , Jonny , Rob and all of the team on their recent accolades and wish them all the best for the future. Thank you and see you again soon
I was always put off by the apparent hushed and revered atmosphere of Restaurant Gordon Ramsey so never got to experience Clare Smyth's cooking there and to be honest, to schlepp all the way across town from east to west was a big ask when she opened Core. But given the rapturous reviews and apparent “casual chic” ambience, I added it to the list for a special occasion meal. As such we duly found ourselves there to celebrate my birthday and oh lordy what a place! The whole experience from start to finish was just an utter joy not only for the exquisite and at times, smile-inducing cuisine, but also from the welcoming and inclusive staff. From first greeting to final goodbyes, this is a team who really do seek to ensure guests have the best possible experience. Initially it was a bit overwhelming as the dining room did appear to be just a sea of dark suited serving staff, but once it began to fill with diners, the balance suddenly seemed to right itself and despite their formal appearance, the interaction we had with every member of the team was delightfully informal. But to the food; we opted for the full tasting menu which was nigh on faultless. Every dish was picture perfect and the taste they manage to pack into even the humblest of ingredients is, at times, beyond belief; most used utterance of the evening was “wow”! My standouts have to be the potato and roe and the lamb carrot as picked up by many esteemed reviewers. Totally concur that both these dishes have “signature” written all over them. The bloke loved the potato but I don't think his suggestion of it accompanying every main dish is likely to be take up somehow. Our only slight disappointment was the limited selection available for the optional cheese course but in retrospect that probably wasn't a bad thing as we left very full of belly. Of course, food and service as good as this does not come cheap so in some ways it is good that we are not locals as I think we'd be bankrupt within a year. However, as a singular treat for a special occasion it will really take some beating and definitely worth making a special trip for.
Food + drink: 4
After more than a few visits to Royal Hospital Road over the years, and considering the heritage of several of the people behind Core, our expectations were understandably high when three of us made our first visit for lunch.
But cutting to the chase, this was clearly the best meal we have eaten in 2018. It would also be a candidate for the best meal we've ever enjoyed alongside L'Enclume , the best of what we've had at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, and the best meals we had from Pierre Koffmann when his Tante Claire was also at Royal Hospital Road. With 4 amuse- bouches, five courses and three elements to the petits four, we were given twelve different taste experiences today. It,s fair to say that every one of these was at least very good indeed , and some were almost astounding. Unusually, I can't think of a single thing about the meal, service or the environment in which we ate that detracted from the enjoyment we had. They didn't miss a beat. And neither does the food come across as merely replicating that on offer elsewhere- these dishes were rather unusual, adventurous and stamp this restaurant's own personality on the food we ate. Altogether a very satisfying encounter and we left with our expectations possibly exceeded.
Of course food like this comes at a cost - we spent £130 a head and it could easily have been more if we hadn't been driving later! So for most of us its a special occasion restaurant, rather than a place to pop in for a casual lunch. But I have to say that the experience is entirely up to an occasion and there was not a moment while we were there that value for money was a doubt. Its worth saying also that this team have a knack of delivering a serious food experience without being stiff. They smile a lot- maybe that's what happens when they know they're getting it right!
Go back? You can bet on it, and indeed a booking is already in place. We can't wait.
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