Clos Maggiore WC2
REVIEWS, February 4, 2006
Overall Value
out of 5
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Clos Maggiore, 33 King St, London, WC2E 8JD

How’s your Valentine’s booking coming along? One excellent choice – though for next year I’m afraid, given that it was fully booked by the end of January – is the subject of today’s review.

From the outside, Maggiore’s gives every impression of wanting to ‘fit in’ alongside the mass-market outlets of Covent Garden. By looking like any other pleasant enough tourist trap, it seems largely to have escaped serious critical consideration. The Good Food Guide omits it. Michelin does find a place for it, but their inspectors – in spite of their supposed eye for detail – somehow fail to comment on its truly remarkable secret: a wine selection over 2000 bins strong.

The presentation of said list is baffling (even for the relatively initiated), but those who really care about these things – the US magazine Wine Spectator for instance – have fêted the selection here with a rarely-bestowed clutch of awards.

The interior of the restaurant is another shock. In particular, the rear room – decorated with greenery, a glazed roof and a baronial-style fireplace – is as pretty a dining space as you will find in London. In terms of obvious romantic appeal, it’s a knock out. (Perhaps in 35 years time it too will be a ‘classic’ like La Poule au Pot, reviewed yesterday). Service is very charming too,

If there is a reservation about this place – and sadly, there is – it’s about the food. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with the cooking, but rather that it can sometimes live up (or rather down) to the simplicity of its menu descriptions. If you choose that great and rare bottle, the food is unlikely to be its equal.

As a prelude to an evening at the Opera, however, the pre-theatre dinner here – with a well-chosen bottle of wine – would certainly be a hard act to follow.

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