Tuesday, 25 August 2009

& Clarke's

Ok, let’s do it. I’m planting the flag and putting &Clarke's on the map (and yes I’m well aware of the fact it’s been around since 1988). To all cake and bake lovers out there, a visit here is essential before any conclusions can be drawn with reference to the outlet for the best breads, cakes, cookies, etc in the capital.

&Clarke's shares the impressive double fronted premises with Sally Clarke’s eponymous restaurant. I’ve yet to dine at the latter as I’ve been somewhat put off by the stuffiness portrayed by its more mature patrons who frequent there. Give me a couple more years then I’ll be grey enough to join them, or perhaps not; I don’t do ties!

&Clarke's started out as a provision shop selling artisanal breads and upmarket groceries to the well-heeled folks of this part of London. Over the years it has expanded its activities to wholesale to include supplying breads to Harrods Food Hall and La Fromagerie; as well as baked goodies to a whole host of wonderful coffee temples like Monmouth, Taylor Street, Wild & Wood and The Espresso Room. From here &Clarke's enviable reputation as a nonsuch baker was thus set in concrete.

Upon entering the shop, you’re assured an ethos of quality. The sight and smells of fresh bread and baked goods plus a hint of the odd goat’s cheese are enough to ensure that you’re not leaving this place without spending a few quid. In addition, countless bottles of wine, home-baked biscuits, oils, preserves, chutneys and many more posh edibles are displayed to their full potential to entice the unsuspecting. The shop is done up to retain a certain Ye Olde Shoppe character with an insurance of a cosy English Tea Room on tow.

As a reminder the seating space at the back is small, I reckon eight at max. Not only is afternoon tea served in the shop, light lunches (appealing no less to the likes of Miss Jean Brodies or yummy mummies) also appear on the menu.

I’ve been here a few times now and have always looked forward to going back again. The following pics are as delicious as they look. Lady Gray asked me recently if I actually ate all the stuff that are shown on this blog, like three slices of cakes in one go; yes of course I do, all of it, as it’s rare for me leave stuff on the plate uneaten. Oink.

I was wondering if this was the best Chicken Pie I’ve had. Served at room temperature it was astounding, imagine what it would be like straight from the oven, I shudder even to think about it.

Custard tart of some sort, possibly a twist on the Maid of Honour. Immensely buttery and rich. Perfect with Darjeeling tea.

Chocolate Cake 1- light and to damn easy to glut, another slice please!

Savoury Cheese and Bacon Slice. I think I suffer from internalised quichephobia, despite my disliking for this cold dish I find myself eating it whenever I see one. It was rather good actually, the highly visual pieces of bacon helped.

Sausage Roll

Half the size and half the price of the now fabled one from The Ginger Pig. This is just as good and besides you always know when the pastry itself is perfect when half of it ends up all over your clothes.

Rocky Road evilness. If you put me in a room full of marshmallows and chocolates, I shall fall from even greater grace than where I’m currently at. Shameless is my middle name.

Chocolate Cake 2- Denser and richer than the first one. It was so rich that it drooped (which precisely applies to my own posture as well).

Lemon and Almond slice. One of my favourites and it’s a perfect treat with strong black coffee like Monmouth (which &Clarke's both serve and sell the beans).

Chicken Pie- same as above but more domed shaped. I’m lost for words…oh yes it’s the best cluck pie I’ve had. Confirmation imparted.

Damson Cheesecake and Carrot Cake
The latter was possibly the only disappointment, not moist enough and the frosting, although very good, too little was applied. The cheesecake was tremendous enough to warrant an unabashed trio of indecent but suggestive pics.




I lost nearly a stone two months ago, but now it looks like a gain of a stone and more is inevitable. &Clarke's cannot be anything else but excellent. Go, it’s on the map now.

122 & 124 Kensington Church Street
London W8 4BH



Kavey said...

Oh my!

Sue said...

You mention a "Maid of Honour" - have you ever been to the 'Original Maids of Honour' tea house opposite Kew Gardens?

(I'm not suggesting you should trek out this way to try it, am just curious!)

The Shed said...

What Kavey said...

Helen said...

You didn't actually eat all this by yourself though?

Lisa said...

Drooling over my desk... I need to visit and soon. And as for that cheesecake porn, it should be banned... ;)

theundergroundrestaurant said...

The only cake you eat nowadays is tubular and made of tobacco...come on Les!
Lets go to Clarkes at some point though I've always admired her and her fixed menus.

thora said...

If Shameless is your middle name then please stop publishing pictures of cakes and tarts so shamelessly, especially with the "teasing" attached. Oink.
(I'm only green with envy.)

bellaphon said...

Kavey- Yes, oh my…love for all things that come out the oven…;P

Zoe’s Mum- Not as yet, but I’m still contemplating an epic walking trip to Kew for that pilgrimage alone. I’m waiting till the weather gets cooler, reckoning on at least four ‘high mileage’ hours for that trip. Thanks for heads up.

The Shed- …I don’t mind being called a ‘doughNUT’ as well! ;)

Helen- Of course I did, care to join me?

Lisa- I’m a sucker for cheesecakes with biscuit bases, although this one was without, it was still megalicious.

MML- if you nag anymore on the weed issue, I’m divorcing you tout de suite. Yes you’re right, have to try out MS Clarke MBE’s soon.

Thora- Make dieting history, cheaper cakes now!

thisisnaive said...

This has been on my list for the longest time, your post has convinced me I really should make an effort to visit.

bellaphon said...

LNH- Looking forward to your write up.

Browners said...

I really wish I hadn't read this. It's made me incredibly hungry and all I've got for lunch is a salad. The chicken pie and lemon tart look particularly awesome.

Monkey Gland said...

You know, I've not eaten at Clarkes since they started having a choice on the menus. I seem to remember quite liking it - I think. Nice post.

bellaphon said...

Browners- Jonathan, truth be told, I need to eat more salad as opposed to the above. Thanks for stopping.

MG- Thank you. I've yet to have a cup of Monmouth here, too pessimistic; the non-baristas might make a balls-up of it!

Helen said...

Yes, I would. I am in awe of your stomach capacity.

Krista said...

Random but related...have you had the cheesecake at The London Review of Books cakeshop? Cafe is short on atmosphere, but cake is long on deliciousness.

bellaphon said...

Helen- Honestly, currently my magnanimous appetite is tiddles compared to my drinking days of yore.

Krista- Hey gorgeous. I've sort of banned myself from going to LRB, I've a major illness with buying and hoarding too many books. I think I need to dump most of them at Oxfam before I visit LRB again!

Anonymous said...

chicken pie and damson cheesecake look heavenly.

Carl Harrison said...

Dear Bellaphon

I work for a magazine and might want to use some of your pictures of Clarke's. Can you please get in touch with me to discuss this?

Carl Harrison said...

My telephone number is 020 7550 8122 and my email is carl.harrison@cedarcom.co.uk

I thought my email would appear when I left a comment but obviously not!

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