Clipstone in London's Fitzrovia is the third restaurant opened by Will Lander. It’s the latest in London’s informal yet fine dining trend, calling itself a ‘neighbourhood restaurant’. Fiona Beckett finds out more…
There’s a notice on the Clipstone website that tells you you’ll need to vacate your table after 90 minutes, ‘which will be ample time to enjoy what we offer. Should you require a little longer or it’s a special occasion, may we cheekily suggest Portland [Clipstone’s sister restaurant] just around the corner…’
It’s the very English politeness you’d expect from its proprietor Will Lander, the son of wine writer Jancis Robinson MW and her restaurant critic husband Nick Lander. It also shows a degree of professionalism born of experience. It tells you exactly what the proposition is. Clipstone is Lander’s third restaurant, the first being the equally congenial Quality Chop House in Farringdon.
Clipstone is the epitome of today’s smart casual eating. A changing, seasonally inspired menu of small (but not too small) plates, a short, clever wine list including on-trend wines on tap, and friendly, efficient but informal service. It ticks all the boxes.
The seasonality is perfectly reflected in a dish I ordered on both my two visits: crudo of yellowfin tuna. In summer it was topped with slices of sweet ripe peach, in autumn with tiny preserved chanterelles. In both cases the tuna was as soft as butter. A generous helping for £10, and a lovely match for a glass of 2015 Eva Fricke Rheingau Riesling (£7.50).
It’s hard to decide what not to eat. On my most recent visit I resisted with difficulty the rillettes of rabbit and foie gras, with less of a struggle the calves’ brains on toast. (The grilled ox tongue however is delicious, as tender as the tuna, boldly partnered with peppery radishes) Despite the offal, there’s a surprising amount of choice for vegetarians. A hearty dish of charred hispi cabbage with a baba ganoush-style dressing was no looker but a bold mash of flavours. I was less convinced by the combination of tomatoes and raspberries.
Chef Merlin Labron-Johnson obviously likes the juxtaposition of sweet and savoury. Two hearty slices of rare roast Saddleback pig arrived accompanied by greengages and bitter radicchio, the latter showing off a glorious glass of Château Pontensac 2001 (£14) to perfection.
But even that was topped by the Paris-Brest, a choux pastry ring filled with praline cream, given a modern spin with a crunch of seasalt. The ideal excuse for a small glass of 2009 Sauternes from Château Filhot (£10). Due to my indulgence with the wine I managed to rack up a bill of £80, but you can eat far more cheaply. Those rabbit rillettes, a £5 glass of Mr Thirsty Vin de Soif NV and you have the perfect early evening pitstop before the theatre or a train home. Clipstone is as cool as it’s classy.
- Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and chief restaurant reviewer. To get the first look at her bar and restaurant reviews from all over the world, subscribe to Decanter Magazine here
5 Clipstone Street
London W1W 6BB
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