With a string of restaurants in Sydney and Japan, internationally renowned Aussie chef Bill Granger has added a second London restaurant, Granger and Co, to his repertoire in bustling Clerkenwell.
Don’t miss your guide to the best new restaurants in London
A stones-throw from numerous bars and boutique cafes that scatter the local area, and nestled in a lively, up-market nook of the popular Green – Granger & Co. stands dramatically out from the crowd. Boasting a modern exterior, the building cuts an impressive figure amongst rows of modest townhouses, with huge windows that span the length of the restaurant offering teasing glimpses of what lies within.
After you’ve climbed the floor-lit marble staircase that greets you at the front door, inside, the cream decor is unexpectedly sleek and simplistic, suitably matched by the casually dressed, friendly staff donning denim shirts and sneakers. Guests feel instantly at ease in what could have quite easily been mistaken as a fine-dining brasserie from the offset and one thing is immediately clear – Bill Granger takes you by surprise.
On first glimpse of the menu, it’s easy to think his dishes shouldn’t work. Ingredients are dramatic and often unfamiliar, taking great influence from Pan-Asian cuisine. Yet based on the full-house of happy diners that scatter the restaurant night after night, it seems that trusting in his brand, guests effortlessly find themselves returning.
Setting out cautiously, we chose a Pizzetta to start – perfect for sharing or as a light main for a single diner. Topped with bonito, take a bite of the flavours on their own and you’ll doubt the combinations. But layer the ingredients together elaborately with a forkful of meltingly soft tofu, thick potato wedges and shavings of parmesan, and it’s spectacular. In the same vain, the ‘Small Plate’ stone bass tiradito is smothered by a mountain of shaved fennel and soused onion that might seem overbearing at first, but put everything on your fork at once, and the sweetness of the sliced orange nestled within finds its place and galvanises the dish.
The ‘Big Plates’ are a little on the safer side, but are equally as distinctive when it comes to strong, pungent flavours. Nearly everything has an accompaniment that could cause you to wince, but the effects truly take you by surprise. I chose the Shrimp burger, which comes wonderfully presented, towering epically over a side of crisp lettuce and thinly cut fries – but slicing into the tightly-bound patty, and you’re caught off-guard by a fierce jalapeno kick pleasantly blended with an equally hot sesame gochujang.
The chicken schnitzel is similarly delicious, encased in a parmesan crumb that’s mouth-wateringly tender – but what makes the dish take-off is the bed of creamed corn that sits beneath it, adding a surprisingly sweet and light edge to a simple dish.
Even the cocktails on offer here are unconventional, with a tiny asterisk alerting overwhelmed guests to the fact ‘classics are also available’. The sake, elderflower and vodka option is strong and smooth, elegantly draped with a shaving of cucumber in a martini glass for added refreshment. The house white wine is a fruity chardonnay, local to Australia, and cleanses the palate wonderfully between courses.
Bill Granger undoubtedly has a skill for creating great impact from few, simple and distinctive components. His supposedly ‘classic’ dishes are injected with excitement, and come together with surprising alignment, ensuring guests go-home with fond memories of an innovative dining experience.
Anna Dack is a freelance food writer, with a healthy appetite and hungry desire to explore London’s fastest and finest. For more follow @Dackery
For more information visit grangerandco.com