Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London Clerkenwell
Hardens guides have spent 30 years compiling reviews of the best Clerkenwell restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 82 restaurants in Clerkenwell and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Clerkenwell restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Clerkenwell Restaurants
1. Palatino Italian restaurant in Clerkenwell 71 Central Street - EC1V
Chef Stevie Parle’s three-year-old pasta specialist is a real “crowd-pleaser”, with “consistently interesting, extremely tasty” Roman-inspired dishes emerging from its “impressively visible kitchen”. It’s part of a “warehouse-style” Clerkenwell work-space, but “when busy you forget the office atmosphere which can otherwise be a little cold”. Top Tip – “cacio e pepe is to die for”.
2. Sessions Arts Club British, Modern restaurant in Clerkenwell 22 Clerkenwell Green - EC1R
Name-checked in Oliver Twist by Dickens – and until the 1920s one of the largest courthouses in the UK – this Grade II Clerkenwell pile now incorporates an events space and restaurant on its fourth floor. It’s a 60-seater with a 20-seat terrace and rooftop pool. Planned since 2019 and open from July 2021, it’s run with input from various creative studios, St John co-found Jon Spiteri and well-known artist Jonny Gent. Expect lots of artfully distressed Victorian interiors and Med-inspired food from chef Florence Knight (ex head chef of Polpetto, et al).
3. Tigre Tacos Mexican/TexMex restaurant in Clerkenwell 13 Eyre Street Hill - EC1R
Known for their food stand in Bermondsey's Nine Lives Alley, this Mexican taco specialist opened a bricks-and-mortar branch at The Gunmakers in Clerkenwell in May 2021.
4. St John Smithfield British, Traditional restaurant in Clerkenwell 26 St John St - EC1
“The original nose-to-tail flag-bearer, and still a joy!” – Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson’s “stark” ex-smokehouse in Smithfield has won fame with “top quality, distinctive British cuisine” (“using unusual cuts”, most famously offal), and “although they might have started the trend, they still lead from the front with exciting, innovative and surprisingly delicious food”. It’s “honest, skilful cooking that puts the produce front and centre” on “an uncompromising and sometimes challenging menu”; and the “hearty-yet-nuanced” results are a case of “simple things done well”… “perfect”. With its brutally “simple and stylish”, “whitewash-walled” interior (“deafeningly loud” at times) and “relaxed but attentive service”, it remains “a must-go” (“what a place to take visitors to show off London’s restaurant scene”). Top Tip – “Eccles Cake with Lancashire Cheese is outstanding”.
5. The Quality Chop House British, Traditional restaurant in Clerkenwell 94 Farringdon Rd - EC1
“You either love or hate the iconic and original (and cramped and uncomfortable) Victorian booths, which are part of the charm of this Clerkenwell institution” (est 1869) , “which has not been a ‘Progressive Working Class’ establishment for a very long time, no matter what it says on the ancient, etched-glass windows!”. Relaunched in the early 1990s in the first stages of Britain’s latter-day food revival, it’s been run since 2012 by Will Lander and Daniel Morgenthau and its ratings are going from strength to strength on the back of its “honest, modern-ish take on hearty traditional dishes” (“perfect for meat eaters – huge steaks”) and “unusual and interesting wines”. They run a deli and wine shop next door too, ‘Quality Wines’ which is currently a voguish haunt in its own right, with chef Nick Bramham producing a small menu of trendy small plates.
6. Berber & Q Shawarma Bar Middle Eastern restaurant in Clerkenwell Exmouth Market - EC1R
The tang of Tel Aviv-meets-North African tastes infuse the lipsmacking charcoal-grilled meats (and also the veg) at Josh Kat’s Haggerston railway arch, which is mostly a walk-in style place (though there are a few tables for bookings). But, in fact, it’s the more recent Exmouth Market spin-off that inspires more feedback nowadays: “Having Shawarma Bar in the title might make it sound like a kebab-shop but, it’s actually an unassumingly intimate restaurant, with great sharing plates and grill dishes that don’t break the bank”. And “it really punches above its weight in terms of the seriously delicious Israeli/Eastern Mediterranean dishes it turns out (the rotisserie chicken is amazing) complemented by an exciting, low-intervention wine list”.
7. The Drunken Butler French restaurant in Clerkenwell 20 Rosebery Avenue - EC1R
Chef Yuma Hashemi presides over an open kitchen – combining contemporary European small plates with influences from his boyhood in Iran – at this unusual Clerkenwell yearling. In the evenings, you choose from either a short (five-course) tasting menu or a long seven-course one. Sundays are given over to traditional Persian feasting, which fans suggest is the biggest draw here: “a meal to remember, with beautiful flavours and textures”: “tahdig (the caramelised crust at the bottom of a pot of rice) was a thing of utter beauty”.
8. Club Gascon French restaurant in Clerkenwell 57 West Smithfield - EC1
“The cuisine of southwest France is constantly re-invented to a superb level” at Pascal Aussignac and Vincent Labyrie’s influential establishment by Smithfield Market, which marked its 20th anniversary last year with a major overhaul. “The sumptuous atmosphere” has been retained, and Aussignac “continues to surprise and excite” with a “creative and imaginative menu that changes monthly”.
9. Café du Marché French restaurant in Clerkenwell 22 Charterhouse Sq - EC1
“Just the kind of spot you expect on the market square of a small French town” – this “delightful stalwart, hidden at the back of a cobbled mews off Charterhouse Square”, is an “unchanging old friend” to its big fanclub. “Convivial, candlelit and very romantic”, its menu is “not gourmet, but it delivers classic Gallic cuisine served with a lot of charm”; and regular jazz helps “adds to the great ambience” in the evening.
10. Workshop Coffee Sandwiches, cakes, etc restaurant in Clerkenwell Ground Floor, White Collar Factory, 1 Old Street Yard - EC1Y
“Perfect coffee every time” keeps caffeine fiends crawling back to this small and serious chain. “Baking from Fortitude Bakehouse is a good complement”.
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