'The food was really good. Over and above what you’d reasonably expect from a gastropub'

The Duke of Clarence

Open Mon–Sat 11am–11pm, Sun midday–10.30pm

In the 1933 classic British novel, Lost Horizon, James Hilton’s protagonist, Hugh Conway, is marooned in the Himalayas after his plane is hijacked and crashes into the side of a mountain. After a perilous journey through the mountains, Conway reaches the mystical paradise of Shangri-La.

If the restaurant at the Duke of Clarence was Shangri-La and I was Conway, then the perilous journey through the Himalayas was getting through the bar to my table whilst the hijackers were the numerous rabble of coked-up estate agents bumping into each other—and me—as they gleefully regaled each other with tales of which vulnerable pensioner they’d fucked over that week by convincing them their house was worth twenty percent less than market value.

The snow of the Himalayas was in ample supply too, as the estate agents had, presumably, bought plenty of their own, impressively spilling much of it over the toilet cistern. It was quite like being in one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants, I suppose. I mean, what else would the white powder be? No-one was applying talc in there (though, being estate agents, they probably should have been). I think it’s only fair to say that this isn’t out of the norm for any London drinking establishment and if you really want to avoid that sort of thing in west London then you should probably head to Paddington or Heathrow.

Thankfully though—also like Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants—the food was very good. Really good. Over and above what you’d reasonably expect from a gastropub, and an example of what Geronimo Inns are capable of (the Elgin in Notting Hill also having a great menu).

I had the cauliflower steak to start with, which was a thick slice of cauliflower pan-fried like a steak and garnished with toasted pine-nuts, fried capers, crispy shallots and spiced creme fraiche. I’m not sure how much of a statement this is but it’s definitely the nicest cauliflower I’ve ever had.

I had a proper steak—a fillet—sourced from a local butcher for my main, which was excellent, as was the bone marrow butter it came with. A treacle tart with whisky cream rounded things off and, together with a great bottle of Chardonnay (not a huge red fan), it meant I left in high spirits and pretty satisfied. Thankfully, the group of estate agents (what is the collective noun for estate agents? A gazump? A swarm?) had left, presumably moving on to clumsily batter the toilet seats of Maggie’s or Raffles with their credit cards, and the whole place had a much more relaxed atmosphere.

An extra nod to the service as well: our waitress was excellent and very attentive, which, considering the previous crowd of property leeches, was very impressive. I’d be greeting people with a headbutt and a scowl.

Anyway, it’s very much recommended, so if you can handle estate agents en masse (maybe you are one. Awkward) go on a Thursday. If not, head earlier in the week when they’re still under a rock or on a Sunday when they’re still in Kent.

I’d go again, regardless.

The details:

The Duke of Clarence, 148 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, London, SW5 0BE; www.thedukeofclarencesw5.co.uk; 020 7373 1285

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