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Clarke’s – a Kensington institution

May 10, 2011

Clarke’s on Kensington Church Street has been on my “must visit” list for as long as I can remember. We finally got our act together to book a table for dinner and enjoyed a very pleasant evening just a few days ago.

It was easy enough to book a table for dinner at 7pm. We arrived just a few minutes early – the first in the restaurant for dinner. Settling at a prime table by the window we ordered a couple of glasses of prosecco while checking the menu and wine list. Until fairly recently Sally Clarke offered a ‘no choice’ dinner menu – diners would eat whatever was being prepared on the day. Clarke’s is now a little more relaxed, with a choice of four starters and four main courses, although a set menu is still available. Everything on the menu sounded delightful. After choosing our food we settled on a bottle of Montagny premier cru as a rather tasty accompaniment.

A selection of breads were offered, all freshly baked and an interesting selection. The rosemary and raisin bread was delicious and M enjoyed one of the other raisin breads. Starters were well presented and thoroughly enjoyed. M opted for the pink grapefruit and avocado salad with spring herbs, blossoms and garden rocket leaves – a light and refreshing choice. I tucked into the tagliatelle with new season peas, young spinach and wild garlic leaves, mascarpone, which was fresh and creamy and very moreish.

Moving onto main courses… M had the poached wild Scottish salmon with agretti, white asparagus, tarragon and lemon, pot of Jersey Royals – asparagus being a main attraction here. I had the Cornish halibut, roasted with relish of baked vine tomatoes, basil, Nicoise olives and chili and riso nero. The halibut was perfectly cooked and the riso nero was heavenly.

We rested a little before ordering desserts. M went for the alphonse mango and pineapple with black and white sesame seed “tuile” while I plumped for the cheese selection (cornish yarg, ticklemore and crozier blue) with a glass of port. I was delighted to see that the cheese was accompanied by a whole host of goodies: toasted raisin bread, wafer thin oatcakes, quince jelly and candied peel. The cheese plate was big enough to share and M happily helped me to finish it off.

Coffee and a couple of rich chocolate truffles finished off the meal perfectly – we were two happy diners. We were surprised to find that we had spent almost four hours over dinner – we were the first to arrive at the restaurant and the last to leave! Service throughout was friendly but professional – this really is a great little restaurant that fully deserves all the plaudits it regularly receives.

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