I am so pleased because there is finally a great place for tiki drinks (and seafood) in San Diego (and I am no talking about my house!). Ironside Fish & Oyster opened in April in Little Italy, and it checks all the boxes for me.
The Clove Club started as a pop-up restaurant a few years ago in London. It soon gathered a following, which allowed it to use crowdfunding to open as a regular restaurant in 2013. It was awarded one Michelin star since my visit in August.
The restaurant is located inside the former town hall building in Shoreditch. Immediately after the entrance, a converted closet full of charcuterie made on the premises is an auspicious sign.
You go through a first room where a central bar area is located, and make your way to the slightly more formal dining area which has a completely open kitchen. Unlike the opulent building, the decor is simple and, should we say, a little sparse – white walls, wooden tables and floors, no tablecloths.
Last year when I got a chance to spend time in London, I immediately knew that I wanted to eat at St. John, Fergus Henderson‘s restaurant in Smithfield. It was not because of the huge hype generated by Anthony Bourdain who visited the restaurant in 2001 for his show A Cook’s Tour (this actually was a bit of a concern), it was about the Nose to Tail concept, which is so engrained in my own French culture. There is truly an art in using all the parts of the animal, and making remarkable things out of them. In the US, Chris Consentino did something similar at Incanto (now Porcellino). For me, this is the ultimate type of comfort food, prepared with an expert hand and a lot of attention to detail but done in a rustic, earthy way.
Chiltern Firehouse might be one of the most sought-after reservations in London these days. Since it opened a few months ago, it’s been impossible to get in unless you are rich or famous. Try googling the restaurant and you will see the daily log of celebrity visitors (from the past few days: “Rita Ora almost suffers wardrobe malfunction at Chiltern Firehouse” and the very intriguing “Clive Owen is seen arriving at Chiltern Firehouse with two mystery ladies”).
I was interested in trying the restaurant, not for his celebrity clientele but because, believe or not, I really like the food of chef Nuno Mendes, who used to helm the kitchen at Viajante and the Corner Room in Bethnal Green. After corresponding with the restaurant for a few weeks, I finally manage to score a reservation for a week lunch in early August.
Finding the restaurant is not difficult, however its entrance behind a large wooden gate is not so obvious (the security guards in black suits in front of the gates should have been a clue). Past the gate is a very nice outdoor patio. The vibe is very much like celebrity hot spot the Ivy in LA. A little bit of LA in London – not surprising, considering that the owner of Chiltern Firehouse is no other than André Balazs of Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.