Just down the hill from Notting Hill Gate, one of the first London restaurants where Ingredients are King – artful but unfussy food in a smart, pretty setting.
Just around the corner from Notting Hill Gate, Clarke’s is one of those places you’d like to have in your neighbourhood and be able to afford to eat at every week. The decor is smart but pretty – all crisp white linen, candles and a homely feel – and somehow you know the food will be equally artful yet unfussy. At Clarke’s, that irritating ‘best ingredients, simply prepared’ phrase is actually true.
A salad of peas, baby broad beans, spinach and grilled courgette looked like spring on a plate. Roasted salmon fillet from the no-choice set menu was a gorgeous deep pink and had an equally deep, robust flavour, set off by explosively sweet baked tomatoes and olives. Angus sirloin, horseradish sauce and hand-cut chips could have come from central casting, and was good value even at £25. Summer fruit jelly with cream and light sponge fingers encapsulated what’s best about this long-standing favourite: familiarity, charm and elegance.
After nearly 30 years, Clarke’s premises have undergone a major change, with Sally Clarke’s deli moving across the road to make way for a doubling of the ground-floor dining room. Let’s hope everything else stays the same.