In a beautiful Victorian townhouse in Kensington Park Road, one the Notting Hill’s prestigious streets and a short walk from Westbourne Grove you will find Core, an elegant fine dining restaurant, serving seasonal British dishes.
This was the place we headed for on a cold and frosty Thursday evening in January. The restaurant, opened in August 2017, is the first solo venture of Clare Smith, the first female British chef to hold and retain three Michelin stars in the UK during her time at Gordon Ramsay.
Clare, who was the chef responsible for the menu at the Royal wedding reception, has received an MBE for services to the hospitality industry and named the world’s best female chef last year in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Unsurprisingly Core has already earned two Michelin stars.
Looking at the exterior of the restaurant, the colours, lighting, logo, fonts and signage, I could sense what kind of experience I was likely to have there. As we walked in there was an elegant and modern bar decorated in a palette of almond, gold, aubergine and copper colour and this is where our evening started with a cocktail and moreish smoked almonds!
On leaving the bar and walking towards the main and beautiful dining room, there is a semi-private space with a large table that offers its guests the best view of the kitchen and is separated by a glass wall.
On our way to the dining room we were greeted by Clare and received a smile from her friendly kitchen staff. The room is decorated in muted colour, with new cream leather tables which leave enough space to provide privacy. The walls are adorned with blond wood bookcases revealing some of Clare’s taste and personality.
We started our food journey with a pair of the most amazing amuses-bouches that arrived before we had even decided what to order, a choice of three, five or ten-course tasting menu. For drinks we opted for Chianti by the glass from the extensive and unsurprisingly pricey wine list.
Cheese and onion gougeres, jellied eel, toasted seaweed and malt vinegar, crispy smoked duck wing, burnt orange and spices, foie gras parfait and madeira
I am not a fan of duck but I must admit they were divine and were my favourite amongst the canapes.
A stunning and elegant dish. Fresh and full of flavour.
Potato and roe, dulse beurre blanc, herring and trout roe
Then came Charlotte potato. A small potato served with a delicious dulse beurre blanc sauce, herring and trout roe, decorated with salt-and-vinegar crisps. A combination of simple ingredients, proving that there is no need for expensive ingredients to create a delicious dish. I completely lost myself in this dish and which I considered was the real star of the menu.
Skate morecambe bay srimps, swiss chard, brown butter
Skate and brown butter is a classic and the beautiful presentation takes this simple and good quality fish to a higher level.
Lamb carrot with braised lamb and sheep’s yoghurt is another sign.ature dish. The carrot is cooked with lamb stock, rosemary and garlic then topped with braised lamb and a dot of sheep’s milk yoghurt followed by the pesto with sauce to finish. It was served with brioche buns filled with lamb.
Duck and red grapes, thyme, honey, Timut pepper
If I had to choose from a menu and I would perhaps skip the duck even though missing the opportunity of a well-executed dish which was pink on the inside and with a layer of crispy fat that melts in the mouth. It was absolutely delicious.
A palate cleanser.
Pink grapefruit lemon verbena
A divine dessert. Meringue dome filled with a lemon verbena sorbet and decorated with slices of grapefruit. Sharp and sweet. Artistically and perfectly displayed.
Warm chocolate tart
Sauternes and Banyuls
Delicious petit fours beautifully presented and mini warm chocolate tarts.
Each dish was presented by a member of Clare’s team accompanied by a story that could be linked to the source, to her passions and also to her experience growing up on a farm in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. The dishes change depending on the season and availability. Vegetables are the star of the menu.
Clarity, cohesion, cleanliness, innovative dishes, presentation, attention to detail and world class service define my experience at the Core.
Core by Clare Smyth
92 Kensington Park Rd London W11 2PN
0203 937 5086
2 Michelin Stars 5 AA Rosettes