Core by Clare Smyth: Smokin’ Hot
Guns and Roses isn’t the first thing I expected to hear on arrival at Core, Clare Smyth’s hotly anticipated new opening in Notting Hill but it certainly sets the tone for the evening.
When my girlfriend Rachel rocks up, I’m settled into the bar and nattering away with the Italian team, who are whipping me up a Negroni. Core’s twist on the classic aperitif comes spiked with sparkling chinotto, rhubarb and lemon thyme – bravo!
The front of house crew is bouncing with good energy and we’re told there’s a very special table awaiting us. All becomes apparent when we realise it’s only the bloody chef’s table! Well this is a nice surprise…
Chef-patron Clare Smyth, as in Gordon’s protégé who held three stars for him, is standing at the pass and shoots us a beaming smile as we sit down. This is one of the hottest new openings of 2017 and it’s all fine dining but there’s a warm informality about the whole place, which I just love.
We opt for the shorter of the two tasting menus. £80 seems like a steal when up the road The Ledbury is knocking them out for £140. Of course ‘snacks’ don’t resemble what you and I would interpret snacks to be, and they’re mighty. As Rachel is tucking into the god of all fizz accompaniments, gougères, I’m seeing off a smoky caramalised duck wing and all seems well in the world.
Flaky Colchester crab is on point, but I’m not writing home about the brown crab base, better though is the doughnut on the side. I love it when veg takes center stage and this happens a few times at Core. There’s a spud starter and a gorgeous lamb braised carrot, which comes with another doughnut, this time stuffed with juicy lamb – the perfect mopping weapon. Skate is a pretty but the grouse which follows steals the show. On paper, I don’t really fancy it, but it’s warming, hearty and has me looking forward to game season with a big smile.
A ‘cherry bakewell’ is perfectly palate cleansing and the pear pudding is to Core what the apple granita is to the Chiltern Firehouse or the French toast and matcha is to Shackfuyu. I enjoy it far more than I expect to but it’s the warm chocolate tart petits fours that I could scoff a whole plate of, they give me that cuddly happy Ready-Brek-feeling. Core’s pastry chef has serious skills.
No need for any of the girl boss craic, Clare Smyth is a boss and it’s a dream to watch her doing her thing in the kitchen and what she’s got going on at Core is nothing other than rock and roll.
Five Very Kerri things about Core
- The chef’s table
- The playlist
- The branding
- The biblical wine list
- Not taking yoself too seriously