The Clove Club

British·
££££
·
Gold Award
·

The Clove Club
The Clove Club
The Clove Club
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SquareMeal Review of The Clove Club

Gold Award

“Pricey but perfect”, The Clove Club is now firmly ensconced in the upper echelons of the gastronomic firmament, with world-class awards and gongs galore reflecting its runaway success. It should come as no surprise that main man Isaac McHale’s cooking is radical, unorthodox stuff, with the emphasis on daringly modern, multi-course tasting menus involving seriously sourced ingredients – although welcoming staff are on hand to “describe the dishes very well”.

Prepare to be challenged as the kitchen applies its abstruse skills to startling, experimental concepts such as hay-smoked sea trout tartare in Pink Fir soup with Japanese sansho pepper or blood pudding with Braeburn apple and chicory relish or even pink-roasted Hebridean lamb embellished with prunes, mustard and mint.

McHale’s almost obsessive desire to push the envelope means that you may not necessarily ‘get’ every dish, but there’s undeniable brilliance and creativity at every turn – from the selection of little snacks to audacious sweet riffs like Amalfi lemonade paired with Sarawak pepper ice cream.

Occupying a prized pitch within Old Shoreditch Town Hall, the dining room is quite pretty (in a “cosy but cool”, minimalist kind of way) with plenty of chef-watching opportunities at the blue-tiled open kitchen, while the bustling corner bar is now a full-on destination with its own menu of funky cocktails and small plates including flame-grilled mackerel sashimi with English mustard and cucumber.

It’s also the kind of place where they offer ‘soft’ drinks pairings as well as the standard wine-based options, and even lay on a bespoke ‘tea tasting’ during ‘dry January’. Yes, The Clove Club is “unlike anything else in London” – just be aware that pre-payment is required when booking a ’ticket’ for dinner.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
British
Ambience
Cool, Fine dining, Quiet conversation, Widely spaced tables
Other Awards
One Michelin star
People
Special occasions, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

Location for The Clove Club

380 Old Street, Shoreditch, London, EC1V 9LT

020 7729 6496

Website

Opening Times

Tues-Sat 12N-4pm Mon-Sat 6-11.30pm

Reviews of The Clove Club

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18 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Wendy R

26 July 2019  
Exquisite, inventive, delicious food. Huge attention to detail on service, foot and wine.

Stuart D

02 July 2019  
Everything is pretty much perfect.

Raj R

24 April 2019  
The food is excellent and presentation is so good. The staff are very helpful and explain all the dishes when they come to the table.

Alex G

Brilliant, but not the best
12 March 2019  

It is hard not to pre-judge the Clove Club. The venue is the highest ranked British restaurant in the annual San Pelligrino top-50 list. Maybe as a result of its fame, it is necessary to reserve a table for a weekend evening three months in advance and – in a first for this country – pay for it all upfront. Against this background, I seriously expect to be wowed. What my comrade and I learned, however, on a recent visit is that we should have followed the Michelin ranking. Put another way, while we loved our experience, we were not left awed by the food and felt that the price was not justified. One Michelin star tells you more than a #33 global ranking by San Pelligrino.

Sure, Isaac McHale (formerly of other super-star restaurants including The Ledbury, Noma and Eleven Madison Avenue) has done a wonderful job, both in terms of vibe and culinary wizardry. Fine dining should be fun, and the informality of the Clove Club goes a long way in dispelling the formal, almost reverent image that the term still connotes in some places. There are no starched tablecloths, snootily disdainful waiters or formal dress codes at the Clove Club – quite the contrary in all respects – but this remains an elitist experience. At £280/head, even for an 8-course tasting menu with paired wines, this is not for everyone. Shoreditch may be miles from Mayfair or Knightsbridge, but you still have to pay up mightily to enjoy the beauty of the renovated local town hall in which the Clove Club resides. Once at our wooden table in with a full view of the rest of the restaurant and its beautifully blue tiled open-kitchen, we waited to be impressed.

Our amuse-bouches set things off on a high note. A tiny brown crab tart with devilled spices was, for example, a sensation of delicate taste and served beautifully on a pebble-encrusted shell. Onto the first course and no complaints about my trout, although my vegetarian comrade was notably more disappointed with her dish. Even if it hid culinary excitement below, it was hard to dispel the unappealing sight of one radicchio leaf seemingly plonked on a plate to resemble a damp cloth. Throughout, there were undoubted flashes of brilliance with the raw Orkney scallop and perigord truffle – apparently a signature dish – lingering long after. I also loved my morels stuffed with wood pigeon sausage, snails and wild garlic, which combined a host of flavours and textures in an original and successful fashion. My comrade also loves morels, but it was not quite so easy, however, for her to get excited about a stuffing comprising breadcrumbs. For a restaurant that places a lot of emphasis on cooking with seasonal vegetables, it was sometimes hard not to feel that vegetarians were slightly short-changed.

Elsewhere, we could not fault the wines (some superb choices were shown, including a decadent 1996 Madeira) or the service (friendly and unpretentious, yet highly professional). Nonetheless, in the final reckoning – and when extras including service had been added to the bill – I felt I had got better relative value elsewhere.

Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Raj R

31 July 2018  
One of the best testing menu. The staff are very welcoming and describe the dishes very well.

Laura J

10 July 2018  
The food was incredible and service incredible. A must-visit.

Stuart D

27 June 2018  
Best food and service in London. End of.

Arek B

27 June 2018  
Great food, great service.

Piglet

A treat
17 July 2017  
Four of us dined at the Clove Club a couple of weeks ago, and had a great meal. You have to pay £75 pp in advance, at the time of booking. I was rather surprised to read in the T&C’s that NO changes to a booking can be made, so if one of your party was unable to attend, your only options are to either a) lost the £75 deposit for that person or b) try and find someone else to fill the void, which made me a little nervous as two of our party travel regularly for work and in order to secure a reservation, you need to do so many weeks in advance, it seems a little unfair that you can’t just move it to another date. The restaurant appeared to be in two halves and we were tucked away in the furthest corner behind the bar, which didn’t really give us any idea of the general ambience of the place, apart from the noise, which was significant, I suspect due to the “minimalistic” décor making it difficult to hear the waiter and sommelier descriptions of the food and drink. We decided to go for the 5 course menu (and two of our party had the additional dish of the day), although they suggest that you don't see the menu in advance as they think it works better that each course is a surprise (I would have liked to see the menu). We started with a selection of snacks, which whilst I remember us all thoroughly enjoying, I cannot actually remember what we ate! Our favourite course was the flamed Cornish mackerel with English Mustard & Cucumber. Three of our party opted for the wine flight but despite asking for the sommelier to recommend a white wine, all I was offered was the wine that was already being poured for the rest of the table, so I didn’t really get any personal service there (although the wine was delicious, I had asked for the wine list available by the glass). However, those on the wine flight did receive “top ups” so they felt that they had plenty by the rest of the evening. For a restaurant of this size I was surprised that there was only one toilet, down in the basement level, so there was a bit of queuing and jostling for the sink, mirror. Half the table opted for the two dessert courses and the remainder opted for cheese instead, all of which were delightful. My only “gripe” is that I think they are hoping that you’ve forgotten about the £300 deposit paid, as there was a lot of “upselling” to the 9 course menu. There are not many restaurants where the bill comes to £200 a head, and whilst it was a very enjoyable evening, I’m not convinced the food and drink quite matched the price tag.
Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Emma M

05 May 2017  
Sensational experience from the walking in the door to leaving. Cool entrance with a grand door into the old town hall. Our table was right in front of the kitchen so amazing to see the head chef at work. We had the set menu. Every mouthful was divine. The wine recommendation was also excellent. Overall, great value for one of the best restaurants in the world. I cannot wait to go again as well as try the new Luca restaurant.

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