The Clove Club is the love child of chef Isaac McHale, a chef who first came to prominence as one of the trio of ‘Young Turks’ who first hit the culinary scene with their popup above The Ten Bells pub. His latest venture is the The Clove Club which is situated in the former Shoreditch Town Hall.
The room has high ceilings, white walls and wooden floors and tables with McHale cutting a burly bespectacled figure at the pass. There is a separate bar area offering a simplified menu but I chose to go for the non-negotionable five course tasting menu (£55) that somehow morphed into an eight course feast. Unusually I wasn’t in the mood for a big drink but a glass of Portuguese Loureiro 2012 Aphros Vinho Verde (£6) with its citrus and tropical fruit notes was a good set up for the meal.
A dish of radishes, gochuchang and black sesame was a contrast of texture and taste. The cruel crunch of the radish was soothed by the Korean curry emulsion (more like a spicy Marie Rose sauce than anything) then taunted by the sardonic wit of the sesame.
The second of the trio of amuses brought together a beautiful tartare of wild Irish trout with a dried cep tart that was bursting with flavour. The finale amuse was a Tokyo turnip, sunflower and mint roll which had a soft but crunchy texture with hints of the sunflower and mint flavours melding with the milder vegetal root element.
Hot crusty malty bread came with home made butter. It is a new trend for bread to be served as a ‘course’ rather than before the meal.
Wild Irish pollan, tarragon salt, horseradish, and fried shallot. The delicately flavoured pollan is similar to a char. It had been slow baked at 80 degrees for one hour in a lot of butter then served with a horseradish creme fraiche and a fried shallot. I love how the delicate use of horseradish can add a subtly perfumed note to a dish.
An unexpected bonus was the pollan bone that came deep-fried. Its salty crunch provided a great contrast to the previous dish.
Monkfish came with white asparagus and morels, cinnamon and curry leaf. The fish was firm but not rubbery in texture and was interestingly framed by the cinnamon foam, juicy morels and the chlorophyll hit of the curry leaf reduction.
Roast parsley root, perigord truffles white polenta and hazelnut grilled chanterelles. The creamy porridge of the polenta provided a nourishing base for the rich autumnal flavours of the roast parsley root, chanterelles and truffles.
The Amalfi lemon cream was made with a thickener rather alarmingly called ‘Thick and Easy’ and served with a black pepper ice cream (the cream base is poured briefly over peppercorns) . It was refreshing with a mild bite of pepper. The charming waitress then brought me a complimentary glass of Moscato d’Asti, a sweet white fizz with that delicious moscatel grape taste as I obviously looked as if I needed another drink.
A wonderfully aniseed wild fennel granita arrived topped with the crunch of a ewe’s milk crisp (made like meringue then dehydrated) and a warm blood orange mousse. Finally an apple Tarte Tatin was a perfect blend of the caramelised fruit with great vanilla ice cream.
This was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. It combined creativity, precision and subtlety with great technique. The Clove Club has just vaulted into the San Pellegrino Top 100 Restaurants in the world at number 87 and justifiably so. Go.