The top quality ingredients of my ploughman’s lunch presented in a down to earth fashion are emblematic of the approach taken at The Clerkenwell Kitchen. It may be housed in a trendy warehouse space with polished concrete floors, exposed brickwork and designer furniture but the food is decidedly unfussy. After all, The Clerkenwell Kitchen was awarded Time Out’s award for best Sustainable Restaurant in 2008. The head chef is Emma Miles who previously worked with Hugh Fearnely- Whittingstall at River Cottage and appears to be putting some of his principles into practice in the big smoke. It has an admirable commitment to fair and sustainable trade with a focus on local, seasonal, organic and free range cooking. This extends to using biodegradable packaging and recycling all waste glass, paper, cardboard, cans and plastic bottles. The Clerkenwell Kitchen is open for breakfast and lunch during the week and for some reason that I do not quite understand only open for evening meals on Thursdays. The menu is chalked up on a blackboard and changes daily. It always includes six lunch dishes and two puddings along with a selection of sandwiches and other goodies that can be taken away for around £3.50 a pop. On the day of my visit the menu ranged from pea and mint soup to mackerel served with beetroot and horseradish.
Even though the weather was stultifying warm the lamb chops were flying out of the kitchen. Two large chops were served in all their glory with a thick roll of fat hanging off them on top of a plate of white beans doused with salse verde and two slow roasted tomato halves. The chops were tender and blush pink inside yielding their juices to mix with beans.
Since it was just a light lunch I was after I thought I could get away without a pudding but was unable to resist the temptation of a pyramid of chocolate brownies stacked on top of the counter to the open plan kitchen. The brownie did not disappoint in a so good it must be so bad for you type of way with a fudgy interior and slightly crisp top.
While I sipped on an (organic) lemonade The Clerkenwell Kitchen also offers a choice of wines and beers. Service is very friendly to the extent that a lot of the customers were on first name terms with the staff and must work nearby and use The Clerkenwell Kitchen as a ritzy and ethically sound work cafeteria. However, I am tipping they are mainly architects and Clerkenwell media types rather than ploughmen.
Details: 27-31 Clerkenwell Close, Clerkenwell EC1R OAT (Ph 0207 101 9959)
If you liked reading about eating lunch with a touch of ethics and local produce thrown in you might be intersted in the Farm Collective in nearby Smithfield. Or if that photo of a brownie has made you hungry try this recipe for chocolate brownies with walnuts.