Having never been someone that was particularly good at sharing, I hold a tentative relationship with restaurants that encourage me to do so. The most I ever shared with The Sister, my own flesh and blood, was chicken pox. Share my dinner? Why would I do that.
Unfortunately for me, given the rising popularity of restaurants that carry the concept of ‘share plates’, this is something I have very rapidly had to come to terms with. Don’t get me wrong: the idea that I can gather a group of people and sample the better half of an entire menu is very appealing to me. However, it is the aftermath that gets me. What if I really like something? Pretending I am not encroaching on the limits of my fair share of any one dish makes dinner an altogether extremely stressful experience.
Based on this, I ensure that any dining situation that carries even the remotest possibility that sharing may be involved is undertaken with friends. Good friends. The type I can rely on to not be taken aback when I want the last piece of anything…those that understand that ‘sharing’ in my vocabulary sometimes means that you get a taste and I get the rest.
An avid fan of Portland from the beginning, the minute I heard that the team would be opening a second restaurant nearby by the name of Clipstone, there was only one couple I knew I could realistically drag along without risking a dinner that would end in a falling out: Subby-Hubby and The Italian. After learning via Instagram that they would be doing a soft launch (with 50% off all food items. Nailed it!), we ran down for an early dinner the Saturday before last.
I must say, I am not generally one to write about newly opened restaurants. Teething issues coupled with a plethora of growing pains, nine times out of ten I find that they leave a lot to be desired. However, Clipstone was different and it became apparent very quickly that this was a place I simply could not ignore…and now, here we are! A glowing review.
We arrived at 6:00PM sharp and were one of the first tables to be seated. Forever a sucker for an open kitchen, I immediately threw myself into a seat with a view and sat partially distracted for the remainder of our meal. Chef porn aside, I rather liked the minimal design of the dining room and it proved to be a lovely place to while away a couple of evening hours.
The dinner menu is broken down into ‘cold cuts and crudos’, ‘summer plates’, ‘sourdough flat breads’ and ‘larger plates’. We selected a couple of dishes from each section and then we were off! [NB: all listed price points relate to standard menu pricing and do not reflect the 50% discount we received based on the soft launch].
First to the table were these creamy white ribbons of lardo di Colonnata with caramelised walnuts (£6). The Italian nibbled tentatively on a piece and, not quite succumbing to the idea of eating pure fat, quickly pushed the plate across to our side of the table. No complaints here! Simple and oh-so-moreish, Subby-Hubby and I fought for every last strand of salt-cured piggy back fat.
The rillettes of rabbit, pork and foie gras with grilled bread (£6) were also a pleaser. Super tasty! My only qualm was that this was not the easiest thing to share. As good as The Italian was at efficiently portioning the piece, I would have preferred that the toast be sliced and served separately to the spread so that everyone could have individually helped themselves.
A perfect accompaniment to foil the richness of both the lardo and the rillettes, the house pickles (£3.50) were not only beautiful to look at, but the selection was fantastic and they were really good. I don’t know what it is about pickles that I love so much! I am just so Swedish these days.
Great flavour-wise but also a bummer to share were the snails with ham, garlic and herb butter on toast (£7). I eventually gave up on the bread and instead chased the snails around the plate with my fork.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the fried leeks with sauce gribiche (£5) were awesome. The batter was light and crispy, the leeks were soft and sweet and the pickle-laden mayonnaise-style sauce provided the perfect amount of piquancy. So simple, so good.
Another surprise, the sourdough flat bread with clams, parsley, creme fraiche and garlic (£10) was also a winner with me. Excellent.
Less successful was the Ryefield cheese, courgette, marjoram and honey sourdough flat bread (£10). I have said it before and I will say it again: I.am.not.a.sweet.tooth. Despite my love for zucchini, the saltiness afforded by the cheese was not enough to balance out the inherent sweetness of the honey and it all became a little much for me.
But all was forgiven with this! My favourite dish of the entire evening: grilled ox tongue with heritage radishes and creme fraiche (£8). The best preparation of my favourite piece of offal I have had in recent memory. Suffice to say Clipstone will have me back for more of this again and again…and again.
A fusion of flavours, mussels with sake, coriander and oliver oil (£10) were also superb. The broth had me scooping every last dreg with an empty half shell. I pined for more.
Pan-seared wood pigeon with corn, girolles and buckwheat (£11) was well cooked, carrying a lovely earthy flavour. Everything came together well and I liked all the components on the plate.
Last to the table was the ravioli of hay-baked carrot and ricotta with brown butter and hazelnuts (£12). Homely and tasty, this was good, even if one of the least memorable dishes of the evening.
I thoroughly enjoyed my feed at Clipstone and I will absolutely be going back for seconds – even if just for another taste of those leeks, that ox tongue and the mussels. It is as if the team have decided to strip back all the showmanship so prolific in London restaurants of the minute and go back to basics. There is no culinary magician work, no bells and whistles…just simple, honest plates of seasonal food cooked well. Really well. It is the kind of food I want to eat. And it is certainly food you will want to eat as well. GO! Go now. And if you don’t like sharing…just order two. That will be my game strategy for next time.
5 Slipstone Street,
London, W1W 6BB