Clare Smyth’s eagerly-awaited new restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, opened to the public in Notting Hill last night. Her departure from Gordon Ramsay’s flagship Chelsea Restaurant on Royal Hospital Road was first announced in October 2015. The restaurant was originally scheduled to open last autumn, but had been pushed back; in May this year, it was reported that the restaurant would open in August. After a week of soft opening the restaurant ran its first service at dinner last night.
At Restaurant Gordon Ramsay the 37-year-old chef held three Michelin stars between 2007 — when she was first appointed to head chef — and 2015. The Northern Irish chef was the first female in the UK to hold three Michelin stars.
Eater London was there for a first-look — here are five things to know about one of London’s most anticipated restaurant openings this year:
Both the lunch and dinner menus comprise of two tasting menus — one five-course (£80); one seven-course (£95) and a three-course a la carte with four choices at each stage (£65). Three pre-starter snacks are also served, as well as two petit-fours and come with both tasting and a la carte menus. All menus will evolve according to the seasons and the availability of ingredients from Smyth’s established network of farmers and fishermen.
The menus include dishes that will familiar to Michelin-star-gazers, including crab, scallop, lamb, beef short rib and a chocolate and hazelnut creméux. But there are modern touches too and a welcome effort to minimise waste: the crab dish includes three separate components — poached claw meat, a doughnut with white and brown meat and a consommé made from the bones; sous-vide chicken breast comes with a salad of confit egg yolk, chopped heart and liver and crispy skin. “We like to use the whole chicken,” said the waiter.
The wine list features a selection of more than 400 fine wines and champagnes and includes varieties from the New World and Spain as well as big names from established regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Service charge is 15%.
Guests access the restaurant dining room through an 18-seat cocktail bar at the entrance. The bar is available for walk-ins only.
Unusually, all three menus are available in the bar area and Eater London was told that there are plans for a separate bar menu in due course.
Cocktails as well as wines by the glass and beers are available in the bar — all orders come with a bowl of peated roasted almonds.
The dining room
The number of covers in the dining room is 54; there is also a 10-seater wooden table around which guest can sit in front of the glass-panelled kitchen. Clare Smyth runs the pass with her back to that table. Last night the dining room was fully-booked. Eater London was told that the restaurant is booked up until October.
There has been a concerted effort — since it’s 2017 and expectations from ‘fine dining’ restaurants perhaps aren’t what they were — to make the experience more relaxed. It’s still unmistakably fine, but the music was much louder than a guest might expect from a would-be Michelin-starred restaurant in west London. The soundtrack could have been a BBC Radio 2 programme when they’re not playing tracks from the charts: over the course of the evening guests heard Dusty Springfield, The Rolling Stones, Toploader, David Bowie, Police and the Bee Gees. A restaurant manager told Eater London that “it was a little more upbeat than the average fine dining restaurant — we’re trying to break down barriers.”
When is it open
Lunch: Thursday — Saturday, 12:00 — 2:30pm; Dinner: Tuesday — Saturday, 6:30pm — 10:30pm. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.
Core by Clare Smyth is now open at 92 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2PN. The website is currently only a holding page and the phone line has been engaged for the past 24 hours.