Chefs popped up to welcome returning guests, attentive waiters offered their sentiments on the impressive wine list, and the odd passer-by popped in to gaze at the fish boutique, where they could choose a fish to take away. I had been transported. I was no longer in Clapham but, instead, a slick eatery in South America. I sat for a moment observing it all from the comfort of my velvet scalloped chair, while devouring freshly baked sourdough smothered in wakame and matcha butter.
After perusing the simple yet expertly curated menu, with a crisp glass of 2017 Alsace Riesling, I opted for a selection of the restaurant’s ceviche. Positioned on a bed of crushed ice, the four bowls were a sight to behold. The vivid yellows, brilliant reds and lively greens bursting from each dish excited my taste buds before I had even had a chance to tuck in. The starter, comprising St Clair’s classic ceviche, tuna tataki, crab salad, salmon and passion fruit ceviche, allows you to enjoy St Clair’s classic ceviche while also experiencing other offerings from the menu – each delicious and memorable in its own right. It would be impossible to pick a favourite; however, I would be happy to only ever eat tuna tataki again. Mopping up the sharp and fragrant juices from the salmon and passionfruit ceviche with the sourdough is a must!
For my next course, I was drawn to the restaurant’s Nikkei pork chashu. I chose this partly due to it being the restaurant’s theme, and partly due to the tantalising description of the slow-cooked pork, caramelised with miso and sake-smoked black beans mole, finished with a spicy pineapple reduction. Decorated with shredded chillies, the pork was so tender and fell apart as I sliced through the meat, while the umami-rich mole married the syrupy-sweet pork perfectly.
After much deliberation, I decided to finish the evening enjoying the baked plantain with dulce de leche ice cream, banana crisps, Brazil nuts and organic white ‘dourado’ chocolate. I chose wisely. The smooth, opulent ice cream complemented the warming richness of the plantain sat in its baked skin – picture a grown-up adaptation of a banana split. The odd muffled exclamatory was all I could muster between each delicious mouthful.
I left feeling plump and content, happy in the knowledge I would be back soon. I want – no, need – to return to sample everything on the menu. I implore you to try St Clair on your next visit to London. Don’t mullet over.