One club you definitely want to be a member of is Clove Club, a restaurant in London’s trendy Shoreditch neighborhood. Clove Club initially started out as a pop-up and has since found a permanent home at the Shoreditch Town Hall. The unique space is different from your typical high end dining room. The separation of kitchen and dining room does not really exist, the barriers between front and back of the house are broken down so that you can truly have front row seats at this dinner show. One drawback of this setup is that the diner is teased with the amazing smells wafting out of the kitchen, creating a sense of anticipation and longing so that what does arrive is met with the most gratitude. The smells do drive you crazy, similar to checking in on a Thanksgiving meal in the making only to be tortured by the fact that it isn’t time to eat yet.
Clove Club treats its dinner theater seriously, and in the evening, you have to pay for your meal in advance like you do for a show. At lunch, things are a little more relaxed, and you can either do a la carte or opt for a 5- or 9-course tasting, payment due when you actually finish your meal. Like any great narrative, Clove Club builds suspense with each sequence of snacks and courses before the apex of the meal. The buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt and the gorgeous baby corn, harvested from Havershire during its ephemeral two-week season and grilled to perfection, reveal the strengths of this kitchen and what more is in store.
And then enough with the teasers and on with what we came for. A rich and fatty mackerel served with gooseberry and chrysanthemum, tempered with cucumber. An elixir of herbs arriving in a cauldron, its green color indicating that it can only mean it has some sort of restorative powers. A perfectly cooked sea bass with caviar and aubergines and served in a chocolate mint sauce. And then it arrives, a dry aged duck, raised for 8 months running free range on an organic farm in France, and now it sits golden brown and fat on a silver platter. This is the moment we were waiting for.
The show is over, but not before dessert. There’s a sweet little sendoff in the form of a burnt honey cake with honey cream and pollen, along with a champagne and lemon grass jelly and a tart filled with vanilla cream, chocolate mint and raspberry jam. The kitchen can now take a bow, leaving us satisfied that the Michelin star and its honors as the highest entrant in the Top 50 World’s Best at No. 26 were well deserved.
The Clove Club
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, London EC1V 9LT, United Kingdom
+44 20 7729 6496