Following a four-year stint in California, where she became friends with Alice Waters at the seminal Chez Panisse, Sally returned to London in 1984 and established Clarke’s. Like Chez Panisse, the restaurant originally offered a no-choice daily-changing menu based on what was good, fresh and seasonal. Some years ago this policy was changed, presumably in response to public tastes. In any case, after well over 20 years Sally had proved her point.
Last year I enjoyed a very special evening at Clarke’s with a menu devoted to the great Elizabeth David. We were seated in the basement, right next to the kitchen, which I thought was lovely and very homely, especially when Sally herself shaved the white truffle on to my risotto.
In 1988 Sally opened the adjoining shop, which has flourished ever since. The bakery is renowned across London, with many leading delis, hotels and restaurant serving its breads and pastries. The shop stocks an extensive range of excellent fruit, vegetables, larder essentials, sauces, salads and much more. It also offers a seasonal menu (changing twice weekly) of sweet and savoury cakes and tarts, from apricots clafoutis and bitter chocolate cake to tarts of even-dried vine tomato, goats’ cheese and basil, and asparagus, leek and Parmesan.
122 and 124 Kensington Church Street, W8 4BH, Tel. + 020 7721 9225
Opinion – Foodsessed on Clarke’s restaurant in Kensington:
Wonderfully selected farm-to-table ingredients are whipped into complex flavours at this relaxed, reliable Kensington modern Brit star where chef-owner Sally Clarke usually can be seen behind the stoves. Also to be found in the bi-level setting are understated elegance in the décor, efficient staff and a decent wine list, adding up to a sophisticated experience whose loyal following feels is worth every pound – and you’ll spend lots of them.