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The Drunken Butler

Restaurants, Contemporary Global Clerkenwell
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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An ambitious neighbourhood restaurant in Clerkenwell.

Small but ambitious, that’s what this neighbourhood spot is. In the corner, there’s a record player, dispatching Sinatra and soul. Up on the shelves, bottles of gin. The airy setting, bathed in warm tones, is smart-casual. The furniture is 'upmarket farmhouse'. As for the menu: just eight dishes, plus snacks. It’s all highly technical, fairly pricy, and, in parts, brilliant. The bread had been slathered in ghee (clarified butter) and foraged herbs before being blowtorched. It was insanely moreish. And that was just the bread.

I loved the onsen egg (that is, slow poached in warm water, here using a sous vide). It arrived, in its shell, in an egg cup, then – plop – was poured out into a deep bowl. Just the right side of cooked, it wobbled around with tiny clams, tiny greens, tiny mushrooms and a poured-at-the-table saffron velouté. It was rich and soupy and comforting. Also excellent was a squid-ink crisp with a purée of nori (seaweed), another velouté (this time courgette) and a charred scallop. To the side: more scallops, this time sliced and cooked in a light, ceviche-esque vinaigrette. Later, an intense dessert of chocolate ganache was Christmassy and magnificent, with alternative smears of hazelnut and orange.

It’s a pity, then, that main courses fell short (chewy beef short-rib, too-dry seabass). But the vibe here is friendly and relaxed. On the night of my visit, the passionate chef came to every table to personally explain some of the dishes and check that everyone was having a good time. Which they were. And isn’t that what it’s all about?


Address: 20 Rosebery Avenue
Transport: Tube: Farringdon
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £135.
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