After working with some of the world’s top chefs, Clare Smyth – the first British female to hold and retain three Michelin stars (at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea) – has now opened her debut solo restaurant in a handsome Victorian townhouse in Notting Hill. The 54-cover space is the former home of Leith’s, and its open kitchen will focus on market-driven tasting menus (from £80) featuring the likes of jellied eel with toasted seaweed and crispy smoked duck wing with burnt orange and spices.
“I chose the name Core because it’s the seed of something new, with strong ties to nature,” says Smyth, who was born and raised on her family’s farm in Northern Ireland and will use her restaurant to spotlight produce from UK farmers and fishermen. “We have some of the finest food in the world here, and I intend to prove it.” Even the cutlery and crockery are from England (from Carrs Silver of Sheffield and Royal Crown Derby respectively), while the contemporary decor and table settings reflect Smyth’s concept of modern British food (there’s not a white tablecloth in sight).
Open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday and lunch from Thursday to Saturday, expect mains of skate with Morecambe Bay shrimps, Isle of Mull scallops cooked over wood, or braised lamb with carrot and sheep’s milk yoghurt, each matched with wines by the glass (from £7) selected from Core’s sizeable cellars, which have been curated by Smyth and head sommelier Gareth Ferreira (named Best Sommelier of South Africa 2016). The 2010 Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido, Bolgheri (£415 per bottle) comes particularly highly recommended.
There’s also an 18-seat bar preparing an eclectic mix of house cocktails (£11-£14) and mocktails (£8) by Alessandro Villa, such as Knottyng Hull (£13) – nettle vodka, escubac, jasmine wine – that can be matched with the food, including a dessert of warm chocolate tart or passion fruit and red kampot pepper.