The Clove Club: Festive Feasting

Christmas shoppers are out with a vengeance on this fresh winter’s day, and it is with pleasure that we bounce past Box Park with no intention of setting foot in a shop today. As soon as I spot Shoreditch Town Hall’s azure-coloured door, my eyes light up with delight at the thought of another Very Kerri afternoon about to unfold. We receive a sincerely lovely welcome, like you’re walking into an old friend’s gaff. The combination of high ceilings, white walls and warm wood make it a clean-but-not-clinical-cosy-but-not-cluttered sort of place. Good vibes. I sort of hoped we’d be in the dining room with the open plan kitchen, but it’s closed this lunch, something to come back for.

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When I give them a heads up that I’m rocking the glutenfree life; our server’s reaction is most endearing; rather than crossing out everything I can’t have from the menu, she basically says I’m good to have the whole thing save one or two tiny tweaks, which I gratefully leave in their hands. Her sister is coeliac so she knows the score and we both laugh about how easy it is to live without the stodgy stuff these days.

As per tradition on these Very Kerri afternoons; I kick off with a glass of fizz, Herbert Hall Rose on this occasion, and Darty rocks an Old Fashioned. A trio of snacks (I use the term loosely) appear. Wood pigeon bangers are a surprise; I’ve never been big on anything involving that bird, and I learn what greengage is, this time in ketchup form; tangy sweetness. Crunchy radishes come with a punchy sesame kicker and fiery Gochuchang. The star of this ‘snack’ show is a no brainer; crispy buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt. Soon after I exclaim “they’re just too good to be glutenfree!” our server confirms they are; and we learn the secret ingredient (which keeps the chicken so moist whilst adding significant crunch) is polenta. Now it all makes sense. Polenta is definitely having a moment, and rightly so. The so-called pine salt is also in my good books. I need more of this stuff in my life.

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Riesling is shouting out to me, but upon discovering it’s a tickle on the sweet side, I am swayed towards the Macon; Darty sticks to the Old Fashioned’s. Scottish blood pudding is perfectly ‘peared’ with a red William pear puree and subtly bitter chicory leaves are thrown in for good measure. Line caught pollock with baked carrots, dates, spices reminds me of warmer climes than London in December, which is a lovely thing. And, it’s safe to say the aged featherblade of beef completely knocks our socks off; so tender you could cut it with a spoon. The horseradish adds welcome oomph, bang on-trend kale makes an appearance, and the Jerusalem artichoke puree is pure velvet.

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Never one to turn down cheese, of any variety, Darty caves at the cheese course. I embrace any thought of a brief interval, until a basket of the tastiest glutenfree spin on piano bread arrives, and, before long, I am piling it high with cheese and chutney; having a grand old time. Should’ve ordered the bottle of Macon.

I didn’t realize we were cruising around Positano on a Riva pre-dessert, but Amalfi lemonade is hard to resist, without feeling like you're in a HSBC advert. The accompanying black pepper ice cream is sensational, what a clever idea, although I’m well up for a bit more pep in it. Palates cleansed, we can handle the last hurrah; warm quince with ginger crisp (toasted almonds for glutenfree) and vanilla cream. An espresso just won’t cut the mustard after this epic feast; a serious digestif is in order, Desperations all round then. And, while we're at it, why serve Petit Fours or truffles when you can serve Fernet Branca and Crème de Menthe injected sucky sweets. We’re reminded of our travels in the hills of Córdoba, Argentina earlier this year, and it's all downhill from there.

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We’re the last people in the place; OVZ, and on the way out, I pop my head into the adjacent dining room to find the chefs prepping their mise-en-place for the evening’s service. Again, it’s a come-on-in sort of vibe, and we have a chat. I already promise to come back in the New Year to see this dining room in action. With that warm fuzzy feeling, we skip onto Old Street and disappear into the Shoreditch haze. Our only preoccupation is how to fill the gap between now and when White Lyan opens; we agree that a winter warmer at the Ace Hotel should suffice.

Five Very Kerri things about The Clove Club

  1. Understated class
  2. 'Snacks'
  3. Glutenfree greatness
  4. Great value menu
  5. Open plan kitchen