With its twinkling overhead lighting in the evening and pavement seating on warm days, Exmouth Market is a fine place to stroll along and choose a place to eat or drink. You could do a lot worse than Medcalf, one of the original catalysts in the rejuvenation of this Clerkenwell street. There’s a bar room to one side where drinkers can enjoy London beers and spirits, or good-value wines by the glass and carafe; the cute little garden at the back is a boon.
The dining room is wood-lined and treads a pleasing path between boho and smart, although the brown-paper menus and dressed-down waiters swing things right back to casual. Too casual sometimes – staff can be distracted and a bit ineffective, and on our last visit we witnessed several frustrated punters waving for service. Food is uncomplicated and resolutely British, with a roster of classics – Mersea oysters, chicken and mushroom pie, steak and chips, pork chop with turnips and cider sauce, sticky toffee pudding. Ingredients are seasonal, quality is high, and the cooking is competent enough to make Medcalf a very agreeable spot for lunch or dinner.