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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Nice bit of tail at The Clerkenwell

Restaurant review: The Clerkenwell, 69-73 St John Street, London EC1M

I have been fancying a bit of tail for such a long time now (ever since it got banned in the UK following the BSE scare, and its subsequent re-introduction). I refer of course to oxtail, and today oxtail ravioli was my starter of choice at the exquisitely lily scented The Clerkenwell dining room.

The oxtail melted in the mouth amid a pleasing and soothing blend of scallops, mizuna and red wine jus. I would have liked even more oxtail as it was just a fleeting taster. Mercifully the cauliflower that was mentioned didn't seem to materialise.

Next up I chose sea bass with scallops, risotto of fine herbs and champagne veloute. Superb. The sea bass was perfectly cooked, tender and flaking, and the risotto under stated but smooth and delicately flavoured.

Normally I try to pass on pudding. But the chocolate tart with caramel sauce, pistachio mousse and ice cream was too tempting. Oh my. Crumbly buttery pastry and a swoon of molten chocolate. The ice cream was only a bit player, pale green and fairly bland - I was looking for it to pack a little more punch. But a divine tart and mousse.

Another point in The Clerkenwell's favour was its excellent service. Each dish was presented to the right person without a word, the hallmark of great waiting. Pleasant relaxed atmosphere; good acoustics (no straining to hear what was being said) and tables nicely distanced from each other. Too many City restaurants have tables crammed close together which is hardly conducive for business meetings.
So, in summary, highly recommended for a business lunch. Quality food, imaginatively presented with a trademark "paint swirl," and excellent service.

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