Core by Clare Smyth

Gold Award
7 Reviews
££££
British

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SquareMeal Review of Core by Clare Smyth

Gold Award

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 about Core by Clare Smyth

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
British
Ambience
Cool, Fine dining, Glamorous, Quiet conversation, Widely spaced tables
People
Romantic, Special occasions, Special occasions

Location for Core by Clare Smyth

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

020 3937 5086

Website

Opening Times of Core by Clare Smyth

Thurs-Sat 12N-2.30pm Tues-Sat 6.30-10.30pm

Reviews of Core by Clare Smyth

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7 Reviews 
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Service
Atmosphere
Value

Paul A

Mind-blowing
20 February 2019  

A truly exceptional meal with every element of the dining experience on the very highest level. The welcome was perfect, the dining room light and attractive without any excrescences that could distract from the food, our table for two was of the right size and it afforded us a view of the pass at which Clare Smyth operates with military precision, the front of house staff were properly dressed and properly schooled as well as very willing to listen to the diners and provide expert help, and as for the cuisine! - this was in the very top bracket of our list of memorable dinners compiled over 40 years of fine dining all over Europe. There are simply not enough superlatives to describe everything making up the “beginning”, the Core Seasons tasting menu, plus the “end”, which amounted to some thirteen outstanding dishes, so beautifully put together in a balanced ensemble that there was never any question of feeling stuffed. It was quite impossible to answer the inevitable question about a favourite dish when each one was a favourite in its own right with its own attractive presentation, taste and texture highlights, and top-notch degree of satisfaction. The Perigord truffle gougères were just about the best we’ve ever had, the jellied eel was great, as was the smoked duck wing, and the foie gras parfait superb. The brown crab meat, infused with lemon, with a jelly made from the shell and black truffle left an indescribably good aftertaste, and this in no way affected the soft sensation of the artichoke that followed, with nasturtium leaf adding to the wonderful combination made with the cheddar backing. Brill came next, a small portion but perfectly cooked with a lovely glaze and a touch of oyster leaf and with the caviar - just brilliant! Next we had what was basically a modern rendering of a French classic but with its own personality, absolutely out-of-this-world veal sweetbreads with langoustine and a light and dark contrast of vin jaune sauce and langoustine sauce, a dish that was as good on the eyes as on the palate. And this was also true of the next dish, where the visuals were composed of a celeriac and black truffle chess board which was populated by the tenderest of venison showing off its true taste, enhanced by the truffle, and to top it all off some terrific foie gras. We allowed ourselves to breathe normally again after all the gasping in wonder at the sequence of outstanding dishes as we dived into the palate cleanser  of carrot and walnut cake mousse and carrot sorbet, which anywhere else could have been considered top of the bill. Then what we imagined was the final dish, “Core-teser” a re-imagining of the humble Malteser in what must be the lightest chocolate dessert ever, even with the pudding underneath the melt-in-the-mouth chocolate with its indulgent hazelnut ice cream and some honeycomb-like malt. But it was not the finale, and we were treated to petits fours of warm chocolate tart and intense Sauternes and Banyuls jellies which, eaten together, was simply heavenly. It is impossible to overpraise this stupendous dining experience where every single mouthful was remarkable, and we shall be making the trip up to London again just to eat at Core.

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Mr. Lloyd S

Simply Stunning
09 October 2018  
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
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Ms/Mrs. Julie R

Core, blimey, loved it!
28 July 2018  
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.
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David H

This really is the full package.
30 May 2018  
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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Mr. Lloyd S

Amazing Dining Experience
18 December 2017  
It was the end of September when we first payed our first visit to Core and the experience was so good we couldn’t wait to return. So please bear with me that I'm writing another review so soon but believe me if and when you finally dine hear you'll understand why On our first visit we was thrilled to have been sat at the chefs table which amazing as you could see the chefs in action but on this occasion we had a delightful table by the window with a great view of the restaurant. Due to the fact it had only been a couple of months since our last visit a few of the courses on the Tasting Menu were the same but this turned out not to be a problem as dishes from the Al a Carte & Lunch Menu were transferred over to create a new menu and also to our delight we had a couple of dishes that were not going to be on the menu until the new year. We started out with a couple fabulous cocktails in the bar which is a lovely setting away from the restaurant itself and is a great way to relax before being escorted to the dining room to start our amazing dining experience Our newly designed menu started with a delightful selection of snacks before our first course an amazing Crab & Truffle this was followed by the Charlotte Potato then a brand new dish of Turbot , cockles , clams & a Parsley sauce we then had Chicken , clams & caviars day also the Oxtail stuffed Roscoff Onion with Beef Short Rib then a fantastic Scottish Venison. This led us to the Cheese course which was a Colton Bassett Stilton together with crackers and the most amazing Fig Rolls. Now it was time for dessert and both were stunning a Chocolate & Hazelnut Cremeaux and a Lemonade Parfait then we had some beautiful Petit Fours to finish . A word now for the sommelier who matched each course with a fabulous selection of wines and was himself excellent as in fact was every member of staff so polite,friendly & professional This really is a restaurant that is going to go all the way to the top especially with Clare Smyth who is such a lovely person and found time to chat to us at the end at the helm and a fantastic experienced team behind her and I’m looking forward to our next visit already
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Mr. Lloyd S

Outstanding Lunch
01 October 2017  
When I heard the news that Clare was going to open her own restaurant my excitement on waiting for this to happen was very high having tasted her food at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey and also that she had Rob Rose as her Restaurant Director you just new this was going to be a fantastic dining experience so when the day came that you could book I couldn't wait and yesterday we went and believe me it was just the amazing experience that I thought it would be. Set in a lovely location on Kensington Park Road a nice short walk from Notting Hill Station. As you enter the warm and friendly greeting that you receive is delightful and makes you feel very relaxed straight away. We decided to enjoy two excellent cocktails before lunch in the bar wher the staff were very engaging we had the Milk Punch and a specially made cocktail consisting of White & Dark Rum and Mandarin . Then came a wonderful surprise as we were being shown to a table that we thought would be I the restaurant itself instead we were seated at the Chefs Table from where you see into the open kitchen and see everything happening before you very eyes and yes it was amazing to see. So now we are greeted by Restaurant Manager Davide and the friendliness & professionalism continued and given a nice complimentary glass of Sparkling Wine while we looked at the menu. We decided to.have the Tasting Menu this which started with a fantastic selection of snacks that included Gougeres , Duck Wings and Jellied Eel. This led to our first course and what a way to start with a stunning Isle of Mull Scallop full of amazing flavours of the sea this was followed by the Charlotte Potato with herring & trout roe to be followed by a delightful Skate with shrimps & brown butter. With the experience already living up to the expectations we then moved on to the fantastic Lamb Braised Carrot with sheeps milk yoghurt plus delightful dumplings before the highlight of the menu a stunning Roast Grouse with red cabbage & bell heather just heavenly all these courses were matched superbly by a fantastic selection of wines chosen by the excellent Sommelier Now onto the desserts with a nice & light Cherry Bakewell dish before a sublime Pear and Verbena with poire williams sorbet then while enjoying ''this dessert out came an extra and it was amazing a glorious Pain Perdu with figs , honey & verjus matched again with a superb Sweet Wine this rounded of a truly outstanding dining experience I have to say that every expectation was met with the food & service being 1st class . I really can't see it being long before the awards start rolling in with Clare at the helm and her excellent Head Chef Jonny Bone who it was a delight to have met and a great team behind her you can only see this restaurant rise to the top. So yes I would highly recommend a visit and I for one will definitely be returning soon.
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Ms/Mrs. Jean T

Absolutely fabulous experience!
20 August 2017  
From the moment we entered the restaurant we knew we were going to have a fabulous experience; the smiling front of house receptionist took us through the lovely bar and past the chef's table in front of the open kitchen which was a hive of activity with Clare orchestrating her brigade of young chefs. We were shown through to the bright and airy dining room where four delectable amuse bouche were served and so started the theatre with exquisite flavours. We decided to go for the a la carte menu on our first occasion here and started off with a divine smoky scallop presented beautifully in a shell, my husband had the crab doughnut which comprised of a trio of elements - a beautiful glass of crab consommé with lime foam, delicately steamed crab accompanied by the deliciously light crab doughnut. For mains we had the wonderful grouse which was presented with a smoking bell glass containing a farci wrapped in red cabbage and the short rib was served with a Roscoff onion stuffed with oxtail. The pre-dessert was a Cherry bakewell with the sharp cherries cleansing the palate before the exquisite deserts of a stunning Peach Pain Perdu and stunning chocolate and hazelnut cremeux. The meal was finished off with delightful petit fours. Overall the flavours and the execution of the food was exquisite; service throughout was exceptionally professional yet friendly with very knowledgeable and passionate staff. Clare's new venture will definitely get Michelin stars very quickly - the question is how many! We very much look forward to our next visit
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