Empowering women is a mission close to my heart and the amazing craftswomen and makers on emma & louise are a true testimony to this. There are of course many other areas where women are making their mark and being recognised for their talent and skills. Professional kitchens is one of those areas. The London restaurant scene has been buzzing for many years and female chefs such as Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of the “River Cafe” paved the way for future stars. Recently, a few new female pioneers have entered centre stage and I have had the pleasure to dine at their restaurants.
Core – Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth’s restaurant in Notting Hill opened two years ago almost to the day. Clare was immediately awarded two Michelin Stars; the third followed soon after. Clare proved herself first by working with Gordon Ramsay as his Chef Patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (a noteworthy feat as I cannot imagine working with such a difficult boss). “Core” is Clare’s first solo venture and she has succeeded in creating a very special place.
Core is a light and airy space tucked away in a townhouse in Notting Hill, a stone’s throw from Portobello Road. Inside, we made our way past a plush bar before arriving in the gorgeous dining space, with its subtle pistachio coloured walls, smooth wooden flooring and relaxed seating overlooking the magnificent, glass-panelled kitchen. Generous spacing is allowed between the tables, providing intimacy and suited to discreet conversation. The staff were attentive and very knowledgeable, ever-present without being overbearing.
The food was divine; the menu changes depending on seasonality and availability. Our table chose the seasonal menu and we were dazzled by options such as Scottish Langoustine with wasabi pea, rose geranium and almond, Morel and Asparagus Tart with wild garlic and vin jus, and Cornish Brill with oysters, cucumber and caviar. The menu consisted of seven delicately chosen courses which transported us into Clare’s world for a few delicious hours.
What made “Core” even more special is Clare herself, and her staff. As soon as we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted by the kitchen staff as they smiled and waved through the glass panelled kitchen. Upon departing, we were quietly invited into the kitchen to meet the kitchen staff and Clare herself. This simple gesture was the cherry on the pie for us. This was Clare’s way of showing her appreciation and inviting us into her world. This seemingly small act of kindness really added a little extra something to our evening and our dining experience.