I booked three of us in for dinner yesterday as I’ve walked past this place dozens of time. I’ve always thought it a little too fancy, most of the time seeing people in suits, or couples for some sort of romantic dinner. Inside it’s both intimate and roomy at the same time with most of the tables spread out against each wall, leaving plenty of personal space without the feeling that you’re dining by yourself.
The menu, put together by head Chef, Andrew Thompson is a combination of classic European dishes, nothing especially fancy, yet all very appealing such as seared salmon, rump of lamb and a crisp confit pork belly. Throughout the night, the kitchen impressed us with all the little food touches they brought throughout the evening, starting with a amuse bouche, a bread basket (white and olive bread), and a handful of bite-sized chocolate, caramel and chocolate chip assorted plate with the bill. The waiters presented the amuse bouche, describing that it was a gift from the chef, yet didn’t explain what it was exactly. Whatever it was supposed to be (to me it tasted like a small amount of pumpkin soup, drizzled with coriander oil and served in a shot glass), it was thick, creamy and definitely tasty.
The rest of the food, for some reason I found was reasonable and filling, yet not quite spectacular. All indicators pointed in the right direction – the monkfish I ordered perfectly cooked, the pork belly someone else ordered melt in the mouth, yet all dishes seemed overseasoned and though pleasing, missing that special thing to delight. Admittedly each dish was beautifully presented and we still enjoyed each dish.
Thankfully, service for most of the night really impressed us with our tap water constantly topped up, and enough time given for us to peruse the menu without waiting too long. I think it did break down was the rest of the restaurant filled, as after we had finished our desserts, we ended up waiting another ten minutes for the pot of mint tea we had ordered (with the desserts) finally arrived, and another significant amount of time to get the bill. Admittedly our waiter was extremely friendly, smiling all the time and quite helpful at explaining the menu.
Though I won’t be running back to the Clerkenwell Dining Room anytime soon, we had an enjoyable evening in a relaxing atmosphere, and indulged in quite a lot of food. I’d recommend this place for groups of up to four, and definitely more suited for doing business or the romantic dinner.