October 25, 2006

124 Kensington Church Street W8; 020 7221 9225 

Addendum October, 2006: 

Sally Clarke is still at the top of her game, finding unusual seasonal vegetables and cooking them in her fashion.  Early October’s menu offered baked gem squash cream soup, served in the little “gem.”  It was extremely good but difficult to eat as the soup spoon didn’t quite fit into the opening of the squash, but we managed.  The cavolo nero and sprouting broccoli served with Varian’s roasted black legged chicken were a perfect complement to the rather bland chicken.  Gary’s bobby beans, landcress, and fried Jerusalem artichokes were more interesting than his grilled Scottish beef sirloin.  In the end, we continue to give high marks for the vegetables but not for the rest of the meal. 

The cheese course featured two English artisinal cheeses, one an Elmhirst from Devon cows which was spectacular, almost a Camembert; and a Tymsboro from Devon goats.  The accompanying oatmeal biscuits, so thin they just melted in our mouths, as well as radishes and celery garnished the plate and completed the course.   

Our Rioja Allende 2001 went down quite well with both the beef and the chicken , and held up to the cheeses as well.  At 28 pounds it was a bargain for
London.  Our dinners were a fixed price three course meal at 39.75 pounds, adding dessert for a fourth course runs the total to 49.50 but it then includes coffee and a truffle. 

Original Visit, November 2005:  Completely inadvertently, we stumbled into Sally Clarke’s Thanksgiving Lunch menu on Thanksgiving Day.  So we got right into the spirit of the day, starting with a lovely glass of champagne and then a pumpkin and fennel soup with sage cream (£6.5) that was so good it could have been dessert.  The main course, not turkey, but close, was a breast of corn fed chicken roasted with cranberry sauce and a red wine glaze (£14).  And, sprout tops.  

Since we were downstairs, in what Gary said must be the American dungeon, we were almost in the kitchen which was open, separated from the tables only by the expediting/serving counter.  In spite of Gary’s opinion, quite charming. Sally Clarke was there, quite friendly and seemingly welcoming to chats.  We did, especially about the sprouts.  It turns out they are the tops of the stalk of Brussels sprouts cut before the sprouts themselves mature.  They are blanched, along with the bean-sized sprouts, and then served bright green, firm and tasty.  She was a bit surprised that we had had the same leaf elsewhere in London (see “St John’s” blog) but opined that they were probably the only two restaurants in London serving it.    As usual, Varian finished with cheese, Ragstone and Waterloo with oatmeal biscuits (£6) and Gary wallowed in the bitter chocolate walnut and raisin brownie with espresso cream (£6). 

The Italian wine we chose, 2000 Barbera d’Alba from Poderi Aldo Conterno was great .  (nota bene:  The whole dining room next to ours in the kitchen was stacked with take out Thanksgiving bags.  Evidently it is their biggest takeout day and they  must have had at least one hundred bags ready to go to Thanksgiving tables around London.  Next time we might think about hosting such a dinner at our “apartment.” See Blog ” A Place Like Home.”) 

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