Top Picks in London by Chef Clare Smyth | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Top Picks in London by Chef Clare Smyth

Clare Smyth

Clare Smyth’s new restaurant Core, is one of the hottest new openings in London this year. Unveiled in August, the restaurant has also commissioned some magnificent artwork, much of which has been done by artists local to the Notting Hill restaurant and whom Smyth knows well. Smyth is the only woman in the UK to have earned and maintained three Michelin stars and was earlier chef-partner at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London. Her new venture Core aims to please with beautiful Nasturtium dishes, a glass box kitchen and relaxed interiors. The menu features fine dining favorites like crab, scallop, lamb, beef short rib, and a chocolate and hazelnut creméux. But if you want to book a table, you’ll have to wait until after October. Blouin ARTINFO had a quick chat with Smyth about her top picks in London.

What are some interesting artworks at Core that guests can look forward to?

Choosing and commissioning the artwork for Core was one of my favorite finishing touches when designing the restaurant – we’ve worked with a lot of local artists who are based in and around Notting Hill. I’m a big fan of the English painter Bridget Riley, and we’ve got a stunning abstract of hers in the bar at Core and a couple I can see from the kitchen too. Another piece which is really special, is a magnificent gold and white screen-print we had commissioned by Ewan David Eason as part of his “Mappa Mundi” series which takes inspiration from maps and symbolism through the ages. The one he did for us depicts a stylized map of London with Core at its center.

What are your recommendations for must-visit places in London and why?

London is a great walking city, so don’t try and do too much at once. Take time to walk for example from Trafalgar Square under Admiralty Arch, up the Mall to get to Buckingham Palace as you get a real sense of how special the palace’s location is then. And the same if you’re in the city visiting St Paul’s. Walk over the bridge to the Tate Modern – the contrast in architecture is astounding - then head along the river to the South Bank, where there’s always something going on.

What restaurants, bars, and cafes would you recommend in London and why? 
This is always a difficult question as it really just depends on where you are, who you’re with and what you’re looking for. The beauty about London is that there are some really good restaurants in just about every zone. It’s no longer just about Zone 1. Personally I prefer places where I can book as I’m always strapped for time, but if you’re on holiday you’ve a bit more, so that will widen your choices.

Where would you go and what would you do if you had a free morning or afternoon in London?

I’d have a lie in, which never really happens these days, then go for a good long walk with the dog, maybe around Richmond Park which is beautiful at this time of year. Or maybe a bit of shopping, a cocktail or two, dinner out, that kind of thing.

Where would you head to in London for the best shopping and what would you buy?

For me the indulgence is time and my passion is food, so it would be somewhere like a walk around Borough and then onto Maltby Street. Both are food markets with a real cool vibe and some great vendors and phenomenal produce.
What are the best places to see and buy art in London?

Lots of the art we chose for Core comes from members of the Young British Artists – YBAs – which includes a series of woodcuts by Marc Quinn and some etchings by Michael Landy which we have displayed on the walls either side of the kitchen. London has so many wonderful rising artists. I like checking out the small shop galleries when I’m in different neighborhoods – it’s how I discovered most of the art for the restaurant - but London has some great fairs too, like the Affordable Art Fairs, Frieze, London Art Fair or even PAD for ideas.

What projects are you currently working on/involved in?

At the moment all my energy is invested in Core – we’re still at the very beginning of our journey and I’m in the restaurant with the team almost every day talking to guests, working with the chefs and making sure we’re achieving the highest standards we possibly can. The restoration was a huge project, and we ended up having to strip the building out completely but it was a real labor of love and I wanted it to feel like an extension of a home.

Click below to view a slideshow on London.