Core by Clare Smyth is a two Michelin starred restaurant, nestled away in Notting Hill, and is hands down one of my favourite restaurants in London. Not only is Clare Smyth (a recipient of the World’s Best Female Chef Award!) at the helm, but literally everything about is perfection.
The restaurant is small and understated but obviously been crafted with care. From the very spacious tables that never feel like you’re on top of another party, to the ambience that has been perfectly pitched to feel light + airy whilst still intimate, Core is somewhere to go where you want refined, easy intimacy with friends, family or even colleagues.
There are three different menus to choose from:
- Core Classics – a set menu of absolute Core favourites
- Core seasons – a set menu of seasonal dishes
- A La Carte – pick and choose your three courses
I highly recommend picking Core Classics on your first trip as it is a really beautiful collection of tried + tested favourites that you’ll love! However this time, we went for the A La Carte option – this post will show what we chose!
But before that, one thing to mention that aside from the usual tables, Core has a special ‘Chef’s Table’ that is situated opposite the kitchens. From this vantage point, you can see the chefs preparing the food, and if Clare is in the restaurant, you can observe her at work. We managed to get seated at the Chefs Table this time round, so I also wanted to share a few photos so you can see what the view is like!
Being able to watch the chefs work is incredible – we spent a lot of our meal just talking about what we thought they were all doing and watching the insane level of focus and attention to detail that each dish goes through. Seeing how Clare approves every dish that leaves her kitchen and how she interacts with her staff was also really fascinating!
Okay, onto the food now!
This dish was called Lobster and Spelt, and also included celery, caviar and selim pepper. It was crafted in the shape of a C, maybe signifying Core or even Clare! I have to say it was a super pretty plate of food and it felt bad to even disturb its careful creation by eating it!
As you may expect though, this dish didn’t just look amazing – every component worked together to give you a real treat, so much so that our plates were entirely clean by the end!
I was really excited for my main course. I ordered the venison, which is not a meat I would regularly have, so this was a treat in itself. The venison came with heritage beetroot, cherry and pink peppercorn, and was a really healthy portion of food! The venison was cooked to perfection, the beetroot and cherry combined really well to add complimentary sweetness to the meat, and the different textures of beetroot gave the dish a ton of interest. Yummy all round!
There is only one dessert I would go for at Core, and it is their perennial classic, the ‘Core-teaser’.
This dish is made up of a beautiful chocolate and hazelnutty mousse and ice cream pairing, sandwiched between two, light-as-air pieces of malt. The combination of all the pieces is heavenly and really rates as one of my favourite desserts ever. There are also some extra surprises – the solid chocolate core in the mousse, the beautifully crafted chocolate feathers that adorn the dessert, and the gorgeous plate that it comes presented on, stuffed with feathers to amplify the light feeling of this dessert. This dish is a must-try if like me, you are a fan of chocolate desserts!
One other thing Core does really well is garnish your experience with little extras. Before your starter arrives, you are presented with a few little canapes to get your appetite going (unpictured unfortunately as I was too excited to eat them!), as well as the yummiest bread + butter I’ve ever had.
Before dessert too, a little surprise!
This cherry is of course not a cherry, but a light and delicate take on a cherry bakewell! Just behind it, it also came paired with a cherry-based cocktail of some description, which helped to give the impression of that cherry dessert.
Finally, after the dessert, a couple of extras arrive in the form of edible gels – a ‘light wine’ and ‘red wine’ gel each – as well as a lovely little chocolate lavender tart, that is just a mouthful of gooey heaven.
Scores on the doors
Food: 10/10 – Core’s two Michelin stars are well-deserved and everything is made impeccably, tastes gorgeous and is presented beautifully. I don’t know what else you could really ask for. On top of that, the prices here are not exorbitant. The A LA Carte dinner menu costs £105 per person, and the Set Menus come in at £135 per person (alcohol would cost extra).
Service: 10/10 – The staff at Core will take care of your every need. Your table is discreetly looked over by a number of staff who keep you very well cared for. Each dish is brought out by a waiter who is accompanied by someone who will give you an explanation of the dish, and who are more than happy to answer all your questions (in our case about what they did to the bread to make it taste so damn good!)
Ambience: 8/10 – Core is not somewhere that feels super buzzy for a raucous night out, nor is it somewhere that gives you a real ‘date-night’, sexy feel. However, it is comfortable, intimate and light, and so is perfect for those nights with friends and family where you’d like to recline in comfort and just have a good time.
Would I recommend? I recommend Core constantly to people who just want good food in London. I also personally love that there is an accomplished woman at the helm! Please go and tell me what you think!
Address: 92 Kensington Park Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 2PN