Admission to The Clove Club
No one would accuse me of being on the cutting edge. Occasionally I think I'm on the cusp of a new trend or fancy myself a pioneer as I find a new restaurant or shop that I must share. Inevitably though, I wind up being woefully behind the crowds of those really in the know, who spend their days getting press releases or talking to tastemakers and trendsetters. Such was the case when I set my sights on The Clove Club. I heard murmurings about this fantastic new spot in East London with a group of young, talented chefs at its helm. The no choice, five course menu was groundbreaking in much the same way that many of the restaurants I'd tried in Paris were. The British food renaissance hitting its stride, I quickly made a reservation. Alas, by the time I actually darkened the door at The Clove Club it had been featured in AMERICAN Food & Wine Magazine as one of the must-dine places in the world for 2013 and the New York Times Style Magazine had a full-page blurb about it. Sigh.Much has been written about the chefs of The Clove Club, Daniel Willis, Johnny Smith, and Isaac McHale who have been calling themselves The Young Turks and flirting with the idea striking out on their own for the past couple of years. They toyed with the foodie public by hosting pop-up events that everyone wished would stick around, showcasing their unique culinary ethos - interesting and overlooked British produce. All have worked at some of Europe's most prestigious restaurants, the Ledbury, St. John Bread & Wine, and Noma, so lightning was bound to strike.
Our experience had been sort of exactly what I'd hoped it would be: a mixture of ingredients and techniques that were somewhat challenging, served in a laid back atmosphere, surrounded by other people who love food. Not everything worked for me, but I can appreciate what these Young Turks are doing and the imagination that goes into all of their dishes. They're having fun with their food. I'll definitely be going back, but to sit in the other room where you can order off a menu. While we had been sequestered in the cerulean tiled dining room, the bar area had jumped to life with a delightful mix of Londoners, the large windows letting in the last of the late evening twilight. Our loaf of bread in my purse, we had one final sighting that sort of summed up the place - a tiny coat closet turned cured meats hanging room. And in spite of being painfully un-hip, I felt completely at home.