Exciting dishes, which deliver big on flavour. The setting's not bad either.
Bill Granger dropped out of art school at the age of 24 and opened his first restaurant in Sydney in 1993, which quickly became famous for its scrambled eggs and ricotta hotcakes. He’s now truly global, with restaurants as far afield as Waikiki, Seoul and London.
There are now two Granger & Co restaurants in London. The first in Notting Hill and the second recently opened in Clerkenwell, where Antonia and I booked in for a Valentine’s day brunch. Clerkenwell is one of the creative hotspots in the capital and the space oozes class and style.
I hadn’t seen any photos of the interior before we arrived and it looked nothing like the picture I had in my mind. Climb the short staircase from the entrance and you’ll enter the large, open, bright and airy restaurant and pass freshly baked tarts, cakes and slices are laid out on a terrazzo slab.
Granger & Co Clerkenwell is an all day dining space, open from breakfast 7 days a week with banquette seating running along all sides, where full height windows frame views of the tree-lined street and flood the space with light. The decor is minimalist and super clean to the point where it looks more like an art gallery or architect’s dream office than a restaurant. It’s a very sophisticated look but lacks some of the warmth I was expecting. Having said that, transport this building to a beachfront in Australia or Hawaii and it would be absolutely stunning.
The breakfast menu at Granger & Co Clerkenwell is fantastic in its range and bravery with inspiration from Hawaii, Sydney, Japan and Italy. Frankly, it all sounded delicious. Your trendy London health nut will be happy here too with juices including bill’s raw juice – almond milk, lsa, raw cacao, banana & honey (£4.80) and bill’s greens (cold pressed)- green apple, cucumber, ginger, silver beet, chia & coconut water (£4.80).
I loved the sound of menu but there are definitely several dishes I know some of my friends wouldn’t dare to try, like brown rice & sweet white miso porridge, dairy free coconut yoghurt & mango (£7.50) and my choice – shrimp, chorizo & house kim chee fried brown rice (£14.50), which was absolutely delicious!
I’m not a brown rice fan but the firmer texture worked brilliantly in this dish, with chunks of punchy chorizo, shrimp and kim chee running through it. Pickled cucumbers on the side gave some freshness, a small pot of chilli sauce provided extra heat and the yolk from the poached egg melted in to the rice to mellow some of the flavours and give a creamy texture to some mouthfuls. Banging.
Antonia opted for one of Bill’s classic dishes – Sweetcorn fritters, roast tomato, spinach & bacon (£13.50). I wasn’t sure how you could make that look elegant and it turns out the kitchen didn’t know either. Neither dish was particularly well presented but what they lacked in looks was certainly made up for in flavour. The portion of fritters was generous and they were perfectly cooked and packed full of ingredients. The bacon was top notch but something was missing. A side of avocado salsa (£2.80) would have been ideal or the same chilli sauce that came with my rice but we didn’t manage to grab anyone’s attention in time to test out our theory.
We both went for cold coffee drinks. Antonia, the steeply priced Coffee frappé – espresso, milk & avocado (£5) which was very rich and sweet but could have done with some ice to thin it out a little and I went for the Iced allpress cold brew (£3.50) which was lovely and refreshing.
There were plenty of dishes left on the menu that we wanted to try so we unbuckled our belts and ordered some Toasted coconut bread, butter (£4.50) which was a little underwhelming after our main dishes but probably just because it couldn’t compete with the heavy flavours from our savoury dishes. We washed it down with a nice pot of Earl Grey by rare tea company (£3.00).
All in all, Granger & Co Clerkenwell far surpassed my expectations. The menu is the most interesting breakfast menu I’ve seen in a long time and the dishes we had comfortably delivered on flavour.
In the evening, the menu switches focus to a range of pizzettes, small and big plates and as you’d expect from an Aussie chef, some BBQ options. Again there are plenty of Asian influences with mouth-watering dishes including korean fried chicken (£8.50) and sticky chilli belly pork (£17.20).
The space and decor wasn’t what I was expecting but was a nice surprise and I imagine it makes for a lovely setting for a romantic evening meal. Definitely a place to take someone you want to impress.
Additional photography by Mikkel Vang
|Sweetcorn fritters, roast tomato, spinach & bacon||£13.50|
|Shrimp, chorizo & house kim chee fried brown rice||£14.50|
|Toasted coconut bread, butter||£4.50|
|Coffee frappé - espresso, milk & avocado||£5.00|
|Iced allpress cold brew||£3.50|
|Earl Grey pot||£3.00|