Kensington stalwart Clarke’s is going strong after 35 years
By Pendle Harte
Clarke’s has been in Kensington Church Street for 35 years, but it still feels fresh. Sally Clarke and her team worked throughout lockdown to revamp the interior, which has a stylish, suitably feminine feel with carefully chosen paint colours in shades of olive and sage. It’s a popular place, busy with a local crowd on our midweek visit, and despite restrictions on diner numbers and extra space between tables, it all feels very normal. It’s lovely to be greeted by Sally herself, who shows us to our table and chats proudly about her team’s dedicated work.
Armed with white peach Bellinis and some of Clarke’s famed sourdough, we embark on the impressive menu. It’s littered with unusual ingredients – summer truffle, girolles, cob nuts, deer – and put together with a huge amount of thought. We order a crab salad to start, with Vesuvio tomato, lemon mayonnaise, fennel and rye toasts, which is a fresh and sweet mix, with impossibly thin wafers of crisp toast and sharp fennel. My vegan companion has burrata salad without the burrata, a delicious mix of figs, nuts and leaves, as suggested by our waiter who couldn’t have been more accommodating about the vegan request.
Main course options are appealing: scallops with girolles and summer truffle was tempting, but I chose roasted Rhug Estate fallow deer loin (I’m still not sure why it’s called deer and not venison) with purple figs, rainbow chard, root vegetables and herbed spelt, which I was warned would be pink. Pink it was – in the prettiest way, perfectly cooked to be soft, silky and light, its sweetness complemented by figs and caramelised vegetables. My friend’s vegan option was a warm salad of girolles, white beans, fennel and other roasted root vegetables cooked to tasty perfection.
For pudding, chocolate mousse tart was decadent yet light, while my combo of dark chocolate truffle, pistachio amaretti and home made nougat with a glass of chilled Balfour English sparkling wine was a treat – essentially petit fours and fizz.
With further restrictions placed on restaurants since our visit, now’s the time to be supporting wonderful local businesses like Clarke’s by booking a table.
124 Kensington Church Street, W8; sallyclarke.com
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