A Penny Saved: The Clerkenwell Dining Room

Posted by Krista on November 30, 2007

69 St John Street
020 7253 9000


Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Victims: Marcos, Colleeen, Isabelle, Aya, Nanta, Christine

The Damage: More about this later.

The Background: So more than a year ago, I got big time suckered into a Taste London card. £40 or something for a green and black plastic card that gets you discounts at restaurants around town.

This made me bitter because TopTable.co.uk doesn't charge you anything for discounts…so £40…hmmm…steep.

And then for the kicker–Taste London auto-renews your subscription, so you get stuck with it for another year if you're not paying attention.

But you know…I say "got stuck with it" very loosely because after our dinner at The Clerkenwell Dining Room on Tuesday–with our 50% discount–I'm sorta hooked! This was a very nice dinner for seven for £170 quid. That's £24.29 each. Not so bad. Sure, we went light on the wine and only 28.6% of us had dessert, but six out of seven of us had a starter. And all of us had coffee. So £24.29 each is a good value. Let me tell you some more.

The Entrance: They take our coats. This place is a lot fancier than I thought it would be. I'm in jeans and trainers. The patrons are all doing business in their cufflinks over their sea bass. Ack…the drawbacks of working for an "everyday is casual day" company.

The Service: Is SURLY. I accidentally tell them we're eight people, not seven. And they reset that table like they were about to walk the plank. It was funny.

The Starters: Mine was squid. It was okay. Better was the salad that it was served along with. Zingy.

The Mains: I went for the sea bass and it was a hugely generous portion and it was served with three HUGELY insane scallops. (No cutting in half to make them look like more here.) I was really impressed with the portion size and the general tastiness. I looked around later and there wasn't a scrap of food left on the table.

The Tap Water Test: Our surly server brought the jug, poured me a glass, and then took the jug away. Others at the table fell for "Still or Sparkling?" and when I wasn't looking, the server filled my glass up with paid-for still water. I was HAD. Don't let this happen to you.

The Verdict: I would take a business dinner here. Particular ones where there are Americans present and they are a bit sensitve about the exchange rate. (£1 = $2.07 according to Google today.) And I would use my TasteLondon card again. It takes a little bit of planning (the first couple of places we tried on Tuesday afternoon were booked) but it's worth it.

8 Responses to “A Penny Saved: The Clerkenwell Dining Room”

  1. Sarah
    Nov 30, 2007

    I got suckered into taste london card too- I think I have used it all of—erm twice!! Maybe only just covers the amount I paid for it. I was meant to get a free book which never materialised despite phoning- humph! I’ll make sure they dont renew it though- cheers for the heads up. Sarah

  2. I am going to keep your blog in my favorites for my next visit to London.

  3. chrisc
    Dec 03, 2007

    You are always so generous.
    Surly service, and the water trick, yet you would go back?

    Such a boring option too, given what else is in EC1.

  4. slonik
    Dec 03, 2007

    I got suckered for the Taste London card renewal too – and am glad to discover that I am not the only one! Clerkenwell Dining Room often features on toptable’s discounts (as does The Hat and Feathers). But if you want to get your money’s worth from the Taste London card around the area, try Malmaison Brasserie on Charterhouse Square and The Well on St John Street — both do nice food and neither do toptable offers.

  5. Kake
    Dec 09, 2007

    I had dinner with my sister last night (Le Mercury, Islington — very small, very cheap, rather decent food) and she recommended the Clerkenwell Dining Room to me because of the Top Table offer mentioned by slonik. Might have to give it a go some time! I like the part about the scallops; I love scallops but it’s always a bit of a gamble as to whether you’re going to get a decent portion or not.

  6. Mel
    Dec 10, 2007

    I also have a tastelondon card, I’ve used it quite a few times though and in my opinion is well worth the money. Try the White Swan on fetter lane or Bacchus on Hoxton street where the tastelondon saving was over £100 in one visit!!!

    I live just off Upper Street in Islington, there are loads of tastelondon places on around there so it’s well worth trying them out with the 50% discount – Pasha and Almeida are the two that spring to mind immediately.

    Cool site btw, I use London Eating a lot for reviews and stuff, but find the reviews on there to be somewhat ‘off the mark’.

  7. Debbie Jack
    Dec 12, 2007

    I’m a tastelondon member as well. The key is to only join if you eat out more than a couple of times a year, otherwise use toptable. I eat out a couple of times a month and have saved a fortune. Go the the Gay Hussar, 50% off for a group of 8 of us. Saved £150, and you won’t find their offer elsewhere.

    You’ve got to be disciplined though – i found when I first joined i ended up at restaurants without checking if they were tastelondon and only realising after paying the bill. gutted.

  8. Natalie C.
    Oct 04, 2011

    This blog post makes me wanna visit London even more now!

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