Clerkenwell Kitchen

Asparagus farfelle
The Clerkenwell Workshops, 27-31 Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0AT 020 7101 9959 www.theclerkenwellkitchen.co.uk

This is a very “Clerkenwell” place to eat. A stripped back factory/workshop space all exposed brick and wooden floors, full of media types in their converse shoes and pinstripe jackets earnestly chatting over a latte and custard tart. And every lunchtime it’s packed out.

The reason is that the food is fresh and fabulous, the cooking simple and unfussy. The menu shifts chameleon like with the seasons, depending on what the chefs find that morning. One day might see onglet and chips, the next beetroot cakes and salad. Those converse clad media people obviously know when they’re on to a good thing.

All of which made it a great spot for the Clerkenwell lunchers to descend on and join the (very laid back) feeding frenzy. complete with their appetites and small lego clowns (thanks Tehbus).

The menu is always short, the emphasis quite definitely on quality, with only about six choices. This is perfect if you’re on a tight lunchtime timescale, and you can get in and out with a main and pudding in under an hour, and still not feel rushed.

Chorizo & cuttlefish stew
Chorizo and cuttlefish stew

Five of us only sampled two different dishes between us, asparagus farfalle and a chorizo and cuttlefish stew. Although we did look with some envy as onglet and a taco salad were served to our neighbouring table. What they must have been thinking if they saw five pairs of hungry eyes following their gently steaming dishes to the table…

The pasta was perfectly al dente with a delicate flavour and just the right amount of bite. It’s so easy to be too cautious with pasta and serve it limp, overcooked and flavourless. Not here. The asparagus was fresh, there was generous lashings of cheese and a deliciously creamy sauce replete with whole cloves of garlic.

The stew was full of large, meaty and tender slabs of cuttlefish, with a delicate flavour that somehow shone through the rich tomato sauce. The chorizo provided an intense and smoky backdrop and fresh garden peas balanced the richness with a freshness that made it a suitably summery stew.

On a previous visit I had had a glorious scarlet beetroot cake that was sweet and quite delicate in flavour, but with a luxurious feel, topped with lightly steamed purple sprouting broccoli and a perfectly poached egg, all creamy yellow yolk oozing over the green and red dish. It was almost enough to turn me veggie. Almost.

Lunch with a couple of non alcoholic drinks came to £14 a head, add another £4-5 for dessert and you have yourself a bargainous lunch. It’s only open one evening a week on Thursdays and you need to book.

6 Responses to “Clerkenwell Kitchen”

  1. meemalee

    So sad I missed this – sounds a treat.

    Can’t believe no-one went for the taco salad :)

    Any pictures of the Lego clown?

  2. The Grubworm

    @meemalee – it was! the food was fab and we had lego clowns. Ace. I have a pic on my phone, will try to send it to you…

  3. The Ginger Gourmand

    I’m not sure why but I was expecting to be underwhelmed by the asparagus pasta (maybe because veggie pasta served at so many places is a mere afterthought…). I’m so pleased I was wrong. Like you say, the pasta was al dente, the sauce thick enough to coat the pasta but not drown it and the asparagus was plentiful – no scrimping! Good wholesome food. I liked it (and the company was pretty good too…).

  4. Tom

    I have to admit I have never even heard of this place? And don’t think, even after having looked at a map, I know where it is. Is it in that weird no mans lane between old street and exmouth market?

    Anyway looks fantastic and I am definitely going to go.

  5. The London Foodie

    Wow, what a find! The food looks simple but amazing, sort of food that satisfies always. Thanks Aaron.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  6. The Grubworm

    @The Ginger Gourmand – i know what you mean, it can be a risk to order something so simple sounding, so many places get it wrong wrong wrong. But not this one. And, it wasn’t as good as the beetroot cake i had had before…

    @Tom – this is one of thos places mostly open for lunch only, it;s just behind Clerkenwell Green, and about 5-6 mins from The Gunmakers. It is a really good place to grab lunch if your in the mood for something simple, but very well cooked.

    @Luiz – it is a find, i would definitely get out there to try it, if you can, for lunch.

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