Before going to restaurants I always love checking out the menu (mainly to prepare myself for the bill). Clipstone’s menu reads like it was ‘written by Chaucer’, as my friend Harry so aptly put it. We didn’t understand half of it. What’s ‘ventricina’ and ‘hispi’ cabbage, why put ‘mallard’ instead of just plain ‘duck’ (apparently because mallard is a wild duck), what’s a ‘torched gurnard’ and a ‘Paris-Brest’? I’m clearly not really ‘with it’ anymore. But it didn’t put me off at all. It actually made me more curious.
While it’s high on my list of go to places, I am yet to try the much-praised restaurant Portland which opened in January last year. Then its sister restaurant Clipstone opened this summer and the reviews were as good, if not better. And for some reason I was even more drawn to it than Portland. So I went last night. And it was excellent.
It started very well with their homemade warm sour dough bread. Thick and soft and filling and just what you need when starving and downing your first cocktail of the weekend. The Halloween appropriate pumpkin with apricot, crispy herbs and creme fraiche was incredible. The hispi cabbage (a diamond shaped sweet cabbage, apparently) was perhaps one of my favourite dishes, as were the leaks with gibriche sauce (effectively leak tempura – so so good). The ravioli of celeriac & ricotta was unbelievably moorish and I could easily have had another plate of it. Our meat options, the pork with quince (the sweet quince made this dish) and the pheasant (beautifully cooked) were good too, but it’s the vegetable dishes that receive the standing ovation. There’s a clear love here for fermenting, smoking and pickling food and it allows for the perfect autumnal dinner. It’s very hard to fault this place.
The service was excellent and friendly and they put up with us asking what every other word on the menu was.
Pudding was a hard choice between the Paris Brest and the Buttermilk pudding, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect from either. But I’m so glad we went for the Paris-Brest (effectively a lot of cream and choux pastry). It was to die for and apparently very much the pudding du jour in London at the moment.
But one word of warning. If you want a post-dinner aperitif, don’t, whatever happens, order the pear liqueur. If you opt for it you can expect poison in a glass and a consequential blurry evening. But everything else on the menu: order, order, order away. You won’t be disappointed.
5 Clipstone Street