I abhor the word “gastropub”. Meant to conjure up images of polished wood beams and artisanal menu items that were brought to you by foraging, rare has pub food actually ignited any kind of excitement. I went to the Artisan of Clerkenwell for a friend’s wedding reception and was incredibly impressed by the food. The pub is nestled in quiet and peaceful St. John’s Square across from the Modern Pantry in one of my favourite parts of London – Clerkenwell. There is even an outdoor terrace – very civilized. After an indulgent day of scoffing champagne and devouring endless packs of crisps on the wedding bus, I was stuffed by the time dinner was served but managed to eat the meal in entirety. And it wasn’t only the mains that were delicious. The canapes served beforehand were also impressive – with special mention to the sweet soy glazed pork belly. Obvs.
First up was a starter of peppered rump steak carpaccio with truffle oil and shaved parmesan. I don’t normally enjoy beef that’s too rare but this had a nice bite to it and was nicely balanced with the parmesan and pepper. Felt really light even though it’s basically a plate of beef.
When the main came out I was already stuffed and thanking the stars that I wore a loose dress. I would love to know how they made this chicken dish so tender. The Char-grilled chicken breast with summer greens, chive mash and tapenade sounds so simple but it was absolutely delicious. I’ve tasted brined chicken before and am thinking maybe this is part of how they managed this – not only was it tender but it had so much flavour. Chicken breast can easily be incredibly boring but this was a winner.
Dessert was Eton Mess and I amazed myself by devouring the entire thing. By this point I wanted to lie down but this is bad form at someone else’s wedding. I’ve had Eton Mess a couple of times before and it tasted a bit heavy with weird extras thrown in – this was nice and light and just tasted like strawberries, meringue and whipped cream. Simple and as it should be. Washed this down with really great coffee. I find it very hard to find good coffee in restaurants/pubs and it was so good that I had another cup. Full to bursting. If you’re looking for a beautiful but low key place to have an event or wedding, I highly recommend The Artisan of Clerkenwell. Gorgeous location and the staff were attentive and friendly. Am jealous I didn’t have my wedding here actually. Would be interested in going back to have lunch from their regular menu!
The Artisan of Clerkenwell
53 St John's Square