Antipodeans all over London rejoiced the day that Aussie Chef Bill Granger set up shop in London, he brought with him a taste of home, in the form of the humble Sweetcorn fritter. At his Notting Hill branch, they’re served crispy and golden with a side of avocado and bacon, just the way I remember. So when I hear that he’s opened up a new outpost in Clerkenwell, I’m thrilled.
I seem to remember Clerkenwell being a great deal grubbier in previous years, but when I head over, there’s a shininess and glamour coming from the streets and Granger & Co, perched right next to Clerkenwell Green is in the thick of it. The interiors are bright and airy, floor to ceiling windows and an abundance of creams, golds and pale wood. Tables are set decently apart and you can curl up against the banquettes and settle in for a good natter and since I’m in great company with fellow Bloggers, we barely take a breath between us.
Our wonderful host Sarah has selected a wide range of dishes for us and everything is brought over to be shared. This woman deserves a prize for fabulous ordering skills, let me tell you.
The first thing I start off with is the Korean Fried Chicken served with Iceberg lettuce, spring onion and a sesame chilli sauce. Never before have I had Fried chicken that is quite so light tasting as this. I wrap up juicy spicy chunks in my iceberg lettuce, sprinkle in a dash of coriander and generously dunk into the sesame chilli sauce and crunch. I’ve made it to chicken heaven.
Whoever has been at the Shrimp Tempura is a dab hand with the light batter and the prawns are left to shine through with only the merest hint of a batter. But you want to order this dish for the Mayo. Called Red-Eye Mayo, it is quite possibly the best condiment I have ever had, on closer questioning it’s a mixture of Espresso, Sriracha and Mayo blended together. If I concentrate really hard, I could taste the Espresso, but that may just be the power of suggestion at play.
In the camp of green things, Spring vegetable salad of green beans, courgettes, cucumber, pea shoots and feta seasoned with mint and chilli successfully marries contributing to my five a day whilst also tasting fabulous. The gnudi is new to me, essentially Gnudi (pronounced Nude-y) is very similar to Gnocchi, but lighter as instead of potato, it’s made with Ricotta. I’d say they are closer to Dumplings on the scale and no surprises here, also delicious with a very light and delicate buttery sauce.
When the pizzas arrive, we have to make room on the table and say goodbye to some of the starter dishes that were so plentifully placed in front of us. A little moment of Sophie’s choice as we try in vain to fit even more dishes on our table and like brave soldiers, we’re forced to say goodbye to the old.
Bonito isn’t an ingredient oft-seen outside of Japan and the dancing flakes on top of this unusual pizza featuring Tofu, Potato and Parmesan all seem to gel together in an interesting fashion. The shrimp and fennel is another interesting twist, while the tomato, basil and mozzarella is an old classic done well. I’m never an enormous pizza fan, so I content myself with ladylike nibbles on these as there is yet more to come!
Final courses (insert sigh of relief) are part of the Main plates, Sarah has chosen for us the Deep Fried seabass, tea-smoked salmon on a bed of green tea noodles, Indian inspired Cauliflower and Butter beans, BBQ belly pork and some more greens in the form of Broccolini with anchovy and chilli.
I love how the seabass comes completely whole crunchy skin on the outside but delicately flakes when we take to it with a knife, leaving behind succulent white flesh. The BBQ belly pork is rich and balanced well by the lettuce cups, but it is the tea-smoked salmon that has me licking my lips in delight. It’s so delightfully refreshing and delicate, even for a somewhat oily salmon and leaves a lovely taste behind.
It’s only the Indian cauliflower that I don’t try, I rebelled against this dish plenty growing up and I’m not giving in now. I make up for it with a few mouthfuls of the broccolini though, salty and a little fishy, this packs a punch.
The meal is being washed down with the most excellent selection of wines, the French Rose slipping down a treat and balancing all the lighter options of the meal just so perfectly.
The array of desserts lifts our spirits even further. The white chocolate and pistachio pavlova is crunchy and gooey with a sprinkling of strawberries and rosewater cream. The cheesecake is quite different, featuring ginger nuts with a blueberry lemon marscapone topping in a chunky glass and the prosecco and elderflower jelly comes with a lashing of summer berries.
I’m in love with the elderflower jelly although after the heavy meal we’ve had, I do think the elderflower could be a little bit more pronounced but all these desserts are more-ish and the system of being able to dip your fork into sample meaty mouthfuls is a trend that I’m hoping sweeps along to more establishments.
We were in residence on a Monday and the restaurant was pretty quiet, but as word spreads and the regeneration of Clerkenwell and the surrounds continues, I very much doubt it’ll remain the same. So go along, take some friends and get ready to share, you won’t regret it.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Spoon PR and Granger & Co, but in no way compelled to write nice things. I could write an ode to the Sriracha Mayo alone and am already planning a return visit, I need a sweetcorn fritter hit.