Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Clos Maggiore

With a magical garden dining room in the heart of Covent Garden, is this London's most romantic restaurant?

I arrived at Clos Maggiore with high expectations. I'd heard it described as London's most romantic restaurant many, many times! First things first, I was surprised at it's amazingly central location. Over the years I've spent a lot of time in Covent Garden but I'd never even noticed the restaurant. That's a good sign in my opinion - discreet. Upon entering you're immediately struck by the charming service and cosy interior. If you're coming on a date make sure you ask to be seated in the garden room at the rear of the restaurant. The front is still attractive, but it's the fairy lit garden room which all the fuss is about.

With a clever use of mirrors and twinkling lights you feel as though you've entered a never-ending, enchanted garden. The setting really is unique and provides the perfect backdrop to any special occasion, all year round. In the summer you'll love the fully retractable glass roof and in the winter the reflections of the crackling open fire, the candles and the starlight makes for a truly magical experience.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting with tables squashed in (in a good way, although I did have to squeeze in to get to my seat!) and comfortable upholstered armchairs encouraging you to linger over your meal. There is a wonderful buzzy feel, so often missing in "smart" restaurants. 

Dinner starts with rustic breadsticks and delicious homemade dips. You know you're in for a good night when the taste of truffle hits your lips before you've even ordered your food!

Following a refreshing gazpacho amuse bouche we chose hand picked Devon crab and marjoram remoulade (with avocado, grapefruit, green apple and smoked anchovies mayonnaise - what an intense combination of flavours!), and Sicilian aubergine and fig caponata with provencal goat’s cheese, parmesan sablĂ© and lavender honey as our starters. They were both beautifully presented, exquisitely fragranced and offering a riot of colour on our plates.

For his main course my date chose the slow cooked fillet of Cornish cod ‘Rougaille’ with vermicelli, shellfish and Iberico chorizo sauce, whilst I opted for hand rolled papardella with seasonal wild mushrooms and Reggiano parmesan. I could smell the wonderful truffle before my pasta even arrived at the table, and when it did arrive it looked, and tasted, fantastic! It was incredibly rich but then that's French food for you, and asking for a dish containing mushrooms, truffle, cream and cheese is not going to leave you feeling fresh and light. It came as something of a shock to a recent participant of the Clean and Lean diet ! Thank goodness for the fantastic sommelier and his excellent choice of a German Chardonnay which cut straight through the woody richness of the mushrooms and truffle. It really was the perfect accompaniment to my food, and it's worth mentioning that he had over 2000 bins to choose from - no mean feat!

Despite being full we valiantly pressed on and chose our deserts. My date opting for Eaton Mess (which turned out to be an inspired DIY affair) while I chose simple vanilla ice cream, unable to eat anything more elaborate. Expecting two scoops of ice cream in a tall stemmed glass I was pleasantly surprised to find that the attention to detail, evident throughout the whole evening, did not cease even when faced with the simplest of desert order. My homemade vanilla ice-cream came on a bed of meringue which was lined with a base layer of chocolate sauce, undetectable until you had your first mouthful. It was delicious and I loved the fact that so much attention had been given to such a humble order!

After dessert we were served delicious petit fours with our coffee. This proved another point I'd heard about Clos Maggiore - that it is incredibly good value, considering the quality of the food, the level of service and all the delicious extras, not to mention the romantic setting.

Having been wined and dined in the magical garden room I have to agree that Clos Maggiore certainly is one of London's most romantic restaurants, and with it's fantastic location it would be a perfect companion to a date at the Royal Opera House. Valentine's Day next year? I think you'll find it's already booked…

Top tip: check the timings carefully when you book as they may need your table back for the post theatre crowd.

33 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JD
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7379 9696
Fax: +44 (0)20 7379 6322
Email: enquiries@closmaggiore.com

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