There is only the slightest, most tenuous little Chinese excuse for writing about my recent dinner at the Clove Club on this blog, but it was such a fabulous meal that I’m going to anyway. My phone ran out of juice very quickly so I took almost no photos (which was actually a relief: Instagram is fun but can also be a self-imposed tyranny). We had the set menu, with a few extra tasters which were sent out by the kitchen.
The Chinese excuse lies in one of the extras, an ingenious little concoction of boned, deep-fried chicken’s feet, gently embracing a mushroom and chicken stuffing. This is the only time I’ve ever been served chicken’s feet in a non-Chinese restaurant, and these were divine: crisp, crunchy and totally unexpected. (Have any blog readers come across interesting chicken’s feet dishes outside the Chinese culinary world?)
In general, Isaac McHale’s cooking is a delightful mix of the warm and old-fashioned (with ingredients such as wood pigeon, greengages and peated barley) and the radical (those chicken’s feet; using the peated barley in a cake that had the gorgeous smokiness of whisky), and the dining room is simple and uncomplicated, without the fuss and circumstance that often accompanies food of this quality. The wines offered as pairing for the dishes were exciting and offbeat.
A few other highlights: slices of white truffle layered on scrambled eggs like autumn leaves; cornish sea bass in brown butter; the singing, whizzy lemoniness of a frothy cream dessert, with a tingly undercurrent of black pepper; the smouldering peatiness of that whisky cake. Altogether one of the most thrilling meals I’ve had in a long time, and extremely good value by London standards.
Apologies for the poor quality of the pic, which was taken in flickering candlelight.