The Clove Club // London 9.7.16
We had the privilege to experience another sensational tasting menu provided by Isaac McHale and the team over at The Clove Club in London. Our reservation was at 19:00 so naturally, we left our hotel at 18:30 and got there about 15 minutes early so that we can enjoy a cocktail before our meal. Walking into the dining room was a real experience. As you go through the door, you must walk through the kitchen in order to get to the seating area. The Clove Club has a capacity of 36 persons in their dining room so you can imagine, its pretty excellent being that close to the kitchen. After passing the kitchen (which was smack dab in the middle of the dining room), we were immediately greeted by our server. He asked us if we had any dietary requirements that they needed to be aware of, and continued into the plan for the evening. He told us that we had a couple options for how the evening can play out. The first thing he explained to us was that there was a supplemental course that we could add to our meal if we preferred. I’m not going to say what the course is yet, simply because I want to give you the experience as it came for us. After explaining the supplemental course, he asked us if we would like a wine pairing with our meal. Personally, I prefer doing this when doing a tasting menu. The reason being is that chefs have sommeliers for a reason and they’re the experts in their field, not me. Small disclaimer here… Keep in mind that the pairings are not full glasses. The wine pours are simply tastings to complement the dish as they are presented.
The Clove Club was a seven course tasting menu. If you don’t know what a tasting menu is, then let me explain. A tasting menu is a set list of dishes that the chef has hand selected to prepare based on availability of ingredients, what’s in season, the chefs specialty, etc. In addition to the seven courses, our server told us there was going to be some “snacks” at the beginning of our meal to get us started. The first one was brilliant and surprising.
This was a melon gazpacho that really reminded me more of a shaved ice that tasted like Captain Crunch cereal. It was incredible! Not at all what you would expect to come as the first thing you put in your mouth at a restaurant.
The second “snack” was a crab tart. Soft, salty, and meant for one bite. It didn’t last long, but man was it good.
The third snack was all about presentation.
The absolute best interpretation of fried chicken I’ve ever had!
The fourth snack was a baby sweet corn. When this was served to us, Becca and I were like um… how do we eat this? Needless to say we figured it out!
Our first course came after the baby corn. It was cornish mackerel served “sashimi style,” meaning it’s served raw. I hadn’t had mackerel sashimi but It was excellent. It was soft and salty and the presentation was beautiful.
The second course was my second favorite of the night. Our waiter explained to us that since truffles aren’t in season right now in the UK, they had to import some from Australia. This was the second raw dish and I fell in love with the combination of the buttery scallop with the truffle. The mushroom added an element of firmness to the dish so that every bite wasn’t “mushy.”
Our third dish was served in a bowl. Inside this bowl was a hot green soup with many different flavors. Basil, mint and parsley were the main flavors that stuck out to me as we enjoyed this dish. We asked our server what herbs were in this soup and he said he couldn’t say because there were so many. We laughed.
After the soup we were presented with some made from scratch bread. This one wasn’t too exciting but was delicious and I probably ate too much of it!
The monkfish was presented next. I’ve never had monkfish before this, and honestly I had to google what it was after I ate it. After looking at the picture I said to myself “Are you kidding me? I ate this?!” Absolutely the craziest looking fish, but works well on my dish, that’s for sure!
Now to my favorite dish of the evening. When our server brought this dish he called it “Buckwheat pancake with succulent pig.” He recommended that we fold the edges over and eat it like a taco. I did exactly that. Usually it takes a lot for me to enjoy a pork dish, but this one was done to perfection. The top was crispy like the top of cream brûlée. The middle was lean but soft and perfectly cooked. No signs of pink within the protein which is what I look for in a pork dish. The pancake on the bottom was textured like a corn tortilla but didn’t fall apart and have that strong corn tortilla taste. It was grainy and held together perfectly throughout the entire handling of the dish. All together it was perfectly executed and stuck with me the entire evening.
The next course was fun because it was served solely from a wine glass. The sommelier came to our table with a bottle of wine that had been fermenting for over 100 years and a decanter with a mystery liquid. He poured us a small taste of the wine and said to have a taste but to leave a small drop at the bottom of the glass. After we took our sip he took the decanter and poured it in our wine glass. He explained that this was a duck confit and was meant to be sipped. We did exactly that. A dark salty broth exploding with flavor and balances the sweetness of the 108 year old wine.
Our first main course was a British meat trio.
Three styles of meat. Sirloin, sausage, brisket. All with different flavors and textures. A Carnivores dream.
Our second main course was the supplemental course that I mentioned earlier. Grouse. For those who aren’t aware what Grouse is, its essentially a large chicken with extremely elegant feathers. (You’ll notice from the picture of the dish what I am talking about.) If you haven’t seen one, I recommend looking them up. This course came in two parts since each part of the bird had a different taste. It was incredible! The leg had a more “game-y” taste than the breast but it was really interesting that each piece had different flavor.
Now that our mains were done it was time to move into the desserts. Two desserts followed by petit fours. The champagne jello with fresh berries was an extremely creative way to have fruit in a dish without looking like a stock dessert with chunks of fruit slapped on a plate. It was beautiful and tasted amazing. The other desert was a mango sorbet covered with cream and a crunchy sugary top. I found myself scraping the bottom of the bowl on this one and regret nothing.
The last thing that came was two after dinner candies. The candies came with a little story which you can read for yourself below. We were instructed to put it on our tongue and let it melt. Once the shell melted the candy exploded with flavors from the mint liquid inside. A fun way to end the experience.
Overall, The Clove Club was anything but a disappointment. It was fun, cheeky, casual and a really fun experience. Everything complemented each other. From the different elements on the plates to the wine pairings, everything was planned to perfection. I can’t wait to visit again.
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