Clare Smyth goes solo as Core opens in Notting Hill

After nearly two years of preparation (we first heard of her proposed solo venture back in 2015) Ramsay’s golden girl Clare Smyth has finally unveiled her first restaurant. Core by Clare Smyth opened on 1 August on the former site of Notting Hill Kitchen, in a grand and rambling old townhouse on Kensington Park Road.

The ethos, for a restaurant must have one these days, is modern fine dining with an emphasis on British ingredients, in an elegant, relaxed interior. Core’s food concentrates on a central tasting menu with 10 to 12 constantly changing dishes. Guests will be able to order in full, or choose just three or five courses depending on preference (and presumably pocket-depth!).

Smyth works closely with British farmers, fishermen and artisan producers to source her ingredients – even the crockery and silverware is British made, by Royal Crown Derby and Carrs of Sheffield respectively. As one might expect of a Gordon Ramsay protégée, Smyth’s solo venture places a huge importance on wine. The fine dining arm of Gordo’s empire has always been a haven for oenophiles – particularly Pétrus in Knightsbridge.

Core boasts 400 fine wines and champagnes, but also includes some at more accessible price points – welcome news as restaurant wine lists become ever-more overpriced. Fine wine in particular will be celebrated, with a collection that Clare, together with the sommelier team, has spent months curating.

The 54-seat dining room includes the expected ‘kitchen table’ where diners can enjoy a direct view of the chefs at work. Seating groups up to 10, the walnut table has been specially commissioned. There is also an 18-seater cocktail bar.

It was Smyth’s “absolutely impeccable” cuisine that helped Restaurant Gordon Ramsay climb out of its slump and back up the Harden’s ratings in recent years – even making a reappearance in our Top 100 UK Restaurants list in 2015. But even though her long time colleague Matt Abe has taken up the reins, our reporters feel Smyth’s departure has stymied the recovery of GR’s Chelsea flagship.

Core by Clare Smyth is open Tuesday-Saturday 6.30-10.30 pm for dinner and Thursday-Saturday noon-2.30 pm for lunch. Reservation details and updates can be found on the website www.corebyclaresmyth.com.

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