After a four week period of closure for refurbishment, The Clifton on Regent Street, Clifton Village has now reopened with a few changes. We were invited in for dinner to check out these changes for ourselves.
Gone is the previous strange configuration of the front of the building, with the removal of interior walls now making the place feel more open. However, while it may feel more open, the choice of such a dark paint and wood panelling for the interior walls seems like an odd one: while some may see the place as atmospheric, we felt it was a little too dark.
It’s always good to see an open plan kitchen, though, with plenty of tables situated with a great view of the chefs at work.
The menu offers new specials each month, alongside a regular selection of starters, mains, sides and desserts – with three courses coming in at around £25 or under. For drinkers, the Cask Marque accredited pub features seasonally rotated beers, with recent new additions to the range including Brooklyn Pennant Ale, Lagunitas IPA and Adnams Jack Brand Mosaic (which went down very well with my partner). Cider drinkers have a choice of Bulmers, Kopparberg, Brother’s, Thatchers or Orchard Pig, while there are plenty of wines to choose from, starting at under £3.50 for a 175ml glass.
My meal began with the mushrooms on toast (£5.75) that can be seen in the kitchen picture above: a thick slice of rye bread topped with a combination of Paris Brown, Flat and Oyster mushrooms enveloped in a Stilton cream. While the mushrooms were cooked well and the bread nicely toasted, it was all a little average – the Stilton could have been more plentiful and it wasn’t that exciting. Big praise for the salt and pepper squid (£6) though from our fellow diners – perfectly cooked in a light and flavourful batter, and not stringy or rubbery at all.
For my main, I was swayed by the pork and chorizo burger, which sadly no longer appears to be on the menu. Tender and juicy, the balance between the two meats was just right and the caramelised onions were beautiful. The sesame seeded brioche bun was also a good shout – a far cry from cheap burger buns found at other pubs – and the skin-on chips were lovely and crunchy too.
Chris, on the other hand, opted for the rack of lamb with a black garlic crust from the specials list – and while he enjoyed it, we were a little surprised that our waitress omitted to ask how he’d like it cooked – as you’ll see from the picture, it was pretty pink…
His salted caramel & chocolate tart (£5.75) was on the generous side: large salt crystals scattered over the top of an incredibly rich and decadent mousse-like tart that was served with a dollop of clotted cream.
Wanting something a little less rich, I chose the raspberry and peach crumble with apple sorbet (£5.75), intrigued by the combination of flavours. For me, sadly, this was the low point of the meal. The portion size was overwhelming, the fruit to crumble topping ratio completely out of kilter. While the crumble itself and the tangy apple sorbet were great, the raspberry and peach filling was sickly sweet and used tinned peaches – the texture wasn’t great.
A bit of a hit and miss evening, all in all. It’s great to see the changes that have been made during The Clifton’s refurb, and while my main course was fantastic, the other two courses let the evening down a bit. As a venue for an atmospheric drink, though, I’m sure I’ll be back.
(Apologies too for the photos – it really was dark in there!)
Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.