From elegant to offal and everything in between.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
Give us an overview of the space.
Now 27 on the World’s 50 Best list, the Clove Club’s come of age, after starting out in the '00s as a Dalston supper club. These days it’s set behind a glossy blue door in Shoreditch’s stately old town hall, with a polished, low-lit bar, and pared-back dining room, where the best views are of chef Isaac McHale’s buzzing, blue-tiled kitchen. Fuss and frills are out (including tablecloths) but the tasting menu’s dizzyingly ambitious—though, unlike some Michelin-starred joints, they’re not averse to serving fried chicken.
What was the crowd like?
Think East London locals, restaurant-industry folk, and bloggers who booked in months ahead—and this being Shoreditch, everyone wears what they like. (It's also hard to outdo the front of house, in their slim, precision-tailored suits.)
What should we be drinking?
House cocktails are as creative as the food, laced with homemade seaweed liqueur or pumpkin seed-infused rye. There's a Clove Club martini if that sounds too much, or plenty by the glass on the wine list; you can't go wrong with a Blanc des Blancs from Kent’s Gusbourne Estate. And, for non-drinkers, there are paired teas—something of a stealth trend on London's dining scene.
Main event: the food. Give us the lowdown—especially what not to miss.
Rooted in impeccably-sourced seasonal British produce, Clove Club's tasting menus are fizzing with ideas. Orkney scallops might be served with clementine and truffles; duck consommé theatrically poured into your glass of 100-year-old Madeira. Special mention must also be made of McHale's pre-dinner snacks, from a spherical, space-age haggis bonbon to the infamous, much-Instagrammed buttermilk fried chicken, spiked with aromatic pine salt and presented in a nest of branches. Nine mind-bending courses later, desserts are strategically light, like the bold burnt clementine sorbet, with shards of spiced meringue.
And how did the front-of-house folks treat you?
Staff are friendly and attentive, without being awkwardly formal; dishes are explained in depth, but you can top off your own wine and water.
Anything else to know?
A Michelin star means it’s always busy, but don’t panic if you’re seated in the bar; candlelit, cozy and hung with Mangalitsa hams, it has its own low-lit charm. You’re asked to pay on booking, via the Tock system—unless, like the savvy locals, you sneak into the bar for snacks.