Core by Clare Smyth
Core by Clare Smyth
Core by Clare Smyth
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SquareMeal Review of Core by Clare Smyth

Gold Award

SquareMeal award hall of fame 1999-2018 logo badge SquareMeal London Hot 100 2018

Since leaving the three-Michelin-starred world of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth has “forged her own special path” – much to the delight of readers who have fallen head over heels in love with her new venture.

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, while “gracious” staff do their very best to make the whole experience extra-special.

The room may be gorgeous in its own right, but everyone is here for food – and rightly so. Readers already have their favourites from Core’s carte and tasting menu: for some it’s the ‘potato and roe’ (actually a dish of skin-on charlotte potato topped with herring and trout roe sitting in a slick of seaweed beurre blanc), while our tip for signature status is the whole carrot topped with braised lamb served alongside a dollop of sheep’s milk yoghurt. These are “smile-inducing” dishes that extract almost unbelievable flavour from the humblest of ingredients.

Elsewhere, brilliant hits abound: a sweet Colchester crab doughnut alongside a glass of crab consommé; an even sweeter Roscoff onion stuffed with rich oxtail to accompany beef short-rib; countless nibbles including crispy smoked duck wings and jellied eel misted with a malt vinegar spray.

And then there are the ravishing desserts – exquisitely reimagined versions of cherry Bakewell or warm chocolate tart, for example. Quite simply, this is “the epitome of thoughtful, stylish and technically brilliant gastronomy”.

The “fabulous” French-led wine list is a real head-turner, with plenty of fine drinking below £50, and you can also eat in the handsome bar, which is a cocktail destination in its own right. We’re in no doubt that Core is headed for the very top, and its many fans agree: “One of the best evenings we've ever had in a restaurant. Superb, understated excellence from start to finish”.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
British
Ambience
Fine dining, Glamorous, Lively, Luxury, Quiet conversation, Widely spaced tables
Other Awards
SquareMeal London Top 100, Two Michelin stars
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Celeb-spotting, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating
Meet the team
Core by Clare Smyth

Clare Smyth

Chef-owner, Core by Clare Smyth

Indisputably the UK’s foremost female chef, Clare Smyth MBE grew up in Northern Ireland and cut her teeth in a string of top restaurants including Gidleigh Park and The Waterside Inn. In 2002 she attracted the attention of Gordon Ramsay and just five years later she was announced as the head chef of his Chelsea flagship, becoming the first female chef in the UK to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars. After nearly 10 years running the kitchen there she struck out on her own (with Ramsay’s blessing) to open Core in Notting Hill, a top-end but fairly relaxed fine dining restaurant that – somewhat unsurprisingly – attracted two stars from the little red book less than a year after opening.

 



Location for Core by Clare Smyth

92 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2PN

020 3937 5086

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu 12:00-14:00
Fri 12:00-14:00
Sat 12:00-14:00
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue 18:30-22:00
Wed 18:30-22:00
Thu 18:30-22:00
Fri 18:30-22:00
Sat 18:30-22:00
Sun Closed

Reviews of Core by Clare Smyth

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28 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Alex G

More than essential
26 September 2019  

For someone carrying the burden of expectation as being ranked one of the very best restaurants in the country, Clare Smyth cuts a remarkably relaxed figure. Indeed, as we descended the stairs to Core (her first restaurant since parting ways with Gordon Ramsey), Clare was positively beaming, as she greeted us with a friendly wave from the glass-fronted kitchen. The moment captures all that Core is about: this is a relaxed venue that is confident in the knowledge that it will deliver an exceptional experience. Rather than starched white tablecloths and snooty waiters, the vibe here is more ‘lux-casual.’ Being at Core reminded me a little of being in someone’s (albeit very nice) house. We liked the informality of the light pine bookshelves around the room, interspersed with artworks, including by Bridget Riley. Bigger than the now-absent Marianne yet smaller than the Ledbury, Core felt just right; intimate yet with a buzz. The kitchen, of course, is the place that really does the talking and what singularly impressed was the artful playfulness that went into the composition not just of each dish, but also to the broader conception of the tasting menu. Take my first dish, an Isle of Mull scallop tartare. I am mostly indifferent to scallop and find it depressing how regularly fine dining venues default to including it on their tasting menus. Here, however, Clare Smyth has taken such an item, transformed it, and its corresponding taste sensation, and presented said scallop beautifully, in a seashell with a vegetable consommé surrounding it. I was similarly impressed by my ‘lamb carrot.’ This is just what you might imagine it to be: a humble carrot topped with braised lamb and finished with a beautiful dollop of sheep’s yoghurt. The flavour and taste sensation were deep and lingering. Presentation throughout was superlative and my vegetarian comrade was similarly wowed with her offerings, particularly a spelt ring. Paired wines were chosen thoughtfully and with connoisseurs in mind. It was a delight, for example, to see an aged Tondonia accompany the monkish and a Le Crau from Vieux Telegraphe paired with a duck dish. Pricing is what you would expect in such a venue and in line with comparable locations. Despite the service (which was, at times, somewhat over-zealous; a small gripe, but worth mentioning), this is money very well spent. You need to book well in advance to secure a table but being organised definitely pays off. 

Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Derek D

26 July 2019  
Booked when one star, arrived when awarded two stars & assume it will soon be 3 stars. Superb.

David U

26 July 2019  
Unbelievable food and menu. Super good service.

Anne H

26 July 2019  
Service is excellent, they read their clients so well. Chatty if you want it not if you dont. Always remembered and always feel special. Love the fact young chefs are brought out to explain the food they have prepared so they understand how to interact with clients and what they enjoy. Food is impeccable, seasonal, delicious. Not packed in tables another plus.

Diane M

08 July 2019  
Where do I start? Food is so imaginative and the presentation is perfect. You feel like you are on an adventure through the courses. Service is so lovely and welcoming. It has a wonderful and quite serene ambiance and somehow manages to combine this with making you feel like it is an event to eat there, that it is so special. I simply love it.

Corinne B

08 July 2019  
Absolutely everything was excellent. I had no critical comments at all. The best restaurant in London.

Stuart D

02 July 2019  
Top notch food in a wonderful atmosphere.

Anna W

28 June 2019  
Brilliant food; interesting menus, beautifully presented and tasty food.served in a modern, classy restaurant. The wine list is extensive and the sommelier knowledgeable. Service is excellent and staff are very friendly.

Lloyd S

28 June 2019  
The best food and service your ever likely to experience. Without doubt the best restaurant in London.

Sian W

28 June 2019  
We have dined at Core a few times now for different occasions. Business and personal. You cannot fault the food, service or feel of the place. Bravo!

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