Walking away from three Michelin stars to open your own joint might be considered a risk – not for Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth’s Core is a restaurant devoted to freshness and zing – as HotJoint likes to poetically call it. This is getting the most from seasonal ingredients with little cooking, and something anyone can do, but to do to a high standard takes immense skill.
And there aren’t many with the immense skill of Clare Smyth. You can’t help but think of her upbringing on a County Antrim farm as the menu at Core, her first solely-owned restaurant. Skate with shrimps, roast grouse with red cabbage and bell heather, charlotte potato with herring, lamb braised carrot, steamed Colchester crab doughnut.
The wind whistles over the sea and the animals graze in the Northen Irish hinterland (again, that’s HotJoint being poetic …)
Smyth left home at 16 to study cooking at Highbury College in Portsmouth and from there has never stopped working, stopping at high falutin hotels and restaurants – French Laundry, Per Se – until the call of La Ramsey came in the noughties, and on the second stint was named chef-patron of th by now three Michelin-starred joint.
This made her unique in the UK and has earned her an MBE and a profile that demands popping up on TV etc But the food is the thing and the new restaurant is a play, no doubt, for Michelin recognition.
Notting Hill/Portobello is a difficult place to open a restaurant in some ways. There’s money there, a Kensington park Road has always been a bit of posh, and a place to go eat, but the Michie star experience? That’s not what the Portobello Road area is for.
However, Smyth is not your usual chef and the clean, lux interior of the restaurant speaks of a chef who know what they are about. Time will tell.