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Restaurants, Fusion Clerkenwell
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

An upmarket Italian restaurant in Clerkenwell.

Luca, a new Clerkenwell Italian from the bods behind the Clove Club, is a classy joint. I dread to think how much they spent on it. From the airy and marble-clad bar section, to the lofty dining room, with deco-rustic fittings and billowy drapes, and the faded-palazzo loos, all burnished mirrors and taupe plaster, it’s a handsome spot.

This warmth extends to the menu: trad-rustic and occasionally finicky, this is upscale country comfort food – resolutely non-punchy by delicious nonetheless. First up, parmesan fries: gossamer-light and greaseless fingers of cheese, destined to become a Luca trademark. Starters proper were similarly delicate. Turnip tops, samphire, smoked cod’s roe and sweet butter was a verdant puck of a dish, all rockpools and sea air, the roe powdered and dusted across the plate. A devilled Cornish spider crab bruschetta was deconstructed, the critter baked with cream and breadcrumbs, perfect for splodging on toasted sourdough and trickling with green, grassy oil.

A bowl of light pheasant and mushroom agnolotti came served in broth, the tiny parcels of pasta containing a mildly gamey filling overshadowed by the lip-smacking, tea-like liquid – the kind of thing convalescing princes might have been fed in olden days.

Rump of Herefordshire beef stuffed with pancetta was a salty smack to the chops after all the dainty morsels, the meat slicing like butter, spotted with dribbles of kale juice and a slab of salsify gratin giving a bit of welcome crunch. Exemplary stuff, though not something I haven’t had a hundred times before (and inevitably will again). For dessert, a bowl of baked chocolate orange mousse was cripplingly rich but nicely offset with malt-heavy barley ice cream.

Luca isn’t a spot to come on a budget, but if you’re sans expense account the bar is set up for more casual sandwiches, salads and aperitivo (as well as a menu of small plates for dinner). Nonna might baulk, but for slick cooking in design-mag surroundings, Luca ticks all the boxes.

Luca says
The restaurant serves high-quality ingredients from around the British Isles and Italy. Seasonal produce such as shrimps from Morecambe Bay, grouse from Yorkshire, langoustines from Scotland and cheeses from across the country. It is food that observes the established traditions of Italian cooking, but breaks the rules a little.

Franciacorta, Negronis, Grappa & freshly shaken cocktails. Things to share – Parmesan fries, salumi, pasta. Take a seat in one of our iconic booths or at our marble bar for a drink, light bite or to settle in for the night.

Monday – Saturday from 12.00 we serve an express lunch offer / pre-theatre menu until 18.30. After 18.30 you can dine from our full dining room à la carte menu. Closed Sundays.


Address: 88 St John St
Transport: Tube: Farringdon
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £130.
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