Special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries are my favourite because I get to pick a really special place I meant to try for a while and finally try it. My birthday/our 1 year anniversary didn’t escape the rule and I chose to go to Core by Clare Smyth.
I had been dying to go since the opening last year so the choice was fairly easy. To add to the excitement, Clare Smyth, on the day of our reservation, won the title of best female chef of 2018 (why do we always need to mention that she is a woman is beyond me but that’s another topic).
Our dinner started with the amuses bouche and just looking at them made me happy. It just looked so beautiful on a very earthy theme that really spoke to me. I started with the jellied eel. I had heard about the East London dish before but was never tempted to try it as even the looks of it didn’t inspire me anything good. This bite was so cute that I didn’t think about it twice. It was very tasty and I loved that jelly texture.
For the second amuse bouche, adding peas and mint to the traditional cheese gougère was a very good idea that brought freshness to it.
We followed by the foie gras parfait. It was the one I was most excited about. Firstly, because I LOVE foie gras and secondly, I mean, look at this presentation! This bed of moss just transports you to the woods. Taste wise, all I have to say is that I wish I could have eaten both bites.
To finish we had smoked duck wings with burnt oranges and spices. I usually am not the biggest fan of duck but this was smoky, crispy and delicious (and the right amount of meat for me)
It was the perfect way to start the meal and after long hesitation we decide to go for the à la carte menu .
As a starter, I went for Clare Smyth’ signature dish. I love trying signature dishes because it tells so much about the chef and who he/she is. As she grew in potato farm she made the potato the star of her signature dish and I have to say it’s just stunning. I was eating it and was wondering how a potato could taste so insanely good. She marries the potato with dulse and herring and trout roe. This is a combination that works incredibly well. The salt and iodine from the dulse and roe balance perfectly the potato. And once again, look at that potato! There’s even mini sea salt and vinegar crisps at the top. You can’t do more english than that.
Before moving on to the main, let’s talk crockery. Where you place your food is almost as important as how you place the food in the plate and some places just have stunning crockery. I usually love ceramic and Frog by Adam Handling had me and my boyfriend returning the plates to look at who made them. At Core, the style is completely different but beautiful nonetheless. Their china is hand made by a 300 year-old company! It’s just incredible.
Onto the main dish now. I ordered the Turbot, Cockles, Parsley and Caviar. The turbot was beautifully cooked but I have to admit I thought the parsley jus lacked punch which made the dish a bit more average compared to the rest. The quality of the produce used was, however, astounding.
Being French, a good meal cannot end without delicious cheese and we had a plate of Colston Bassett Stilton. Stilton might be my favourite English cheese and here it was served with warm fig rolls and a very interesting sweet wine jelly. I just cannot understand people that don’t like cheese.
Dessert is usually my favourite part of the meal and we got 2 of them!
The first one, the Core Apple, is an apple made of different mousse. It looked pretty and tasted good but didn’t really make an impression on me.
The other dessert was just exactly what I want to end a meal like this. Light and fresh. It was a sort of vacherin with a dome of meringue, a filling of lemon verbena and a strawberry ice cream, topped with the cutest wild strawberries. It was almost too beautiful to eat and definitely refreshing!
This dinner has just exceeded all my expectations. After Eleven Madison Park I was ready to be disappointed by all restaurants I was really looking forward to and this experience completely reassured me. I was impressed by the level and quality of the food which is definitely worth a few Michelin stars. The service was impeccable and the willingness of the chef to be hyper local is an approach that just really speaks to me. All the produce are sourced locally. From the food we eat, to the wood of the table we eat on, everything is British and that’s something I’m really attached to. They even dry their own meat in the small kitchen where Clare Smyth can be seen in action every day through the big windows, removing the separation between kitchen and clients. Just go, you won’t regret it.
Core by Clare Smyth – 92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2
Full tasting menu – 105£
Basic tasting menu – 85£
A la carte – 75£
Best for: Dinner for a special occasion.
Comment: I have a feeling this place is going to win at least one Michelin star next year 😉