Dining in the most romantic restaurant in London
For my birthday in October, my husband and I went to Clos Maggiore, just off Covent Garden – supposedly the most romantic restaurant in London, and also a place that the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted having a meal with her family. Because I’m nosy, and a foodie, I had to try the place out to find out what all the fuss was about!
The restaurant is usually booked months in advance, so you’ll need to wait patiently for your table. The best seats are in the conservatory -pictured below – but even if you have a special occasion, there’s no guarantee you’ll be seated there (I wasn’t!). This is the restaurant’s main selling point, but luckily I was seated right next to it, meaning I got a great view of the inside and could take some good snaps for you!
The interior is certainly stunning, and with the dim lighting and simple decor, the whole place is a calming and relaxing place to eat. The decoration and the menu are classically French, and having spent a lot of time dining in France with my husband during his French degree at university, I felt very much at home!
The dining tables are very close together, so despite it having a reputation as the most romantic restaurant in London, it’s actually not incredibly discreet… But just like any restaurant, most people are more interested in their food and their companions than they are anyone else!
Even the other areas of the restaurant are smartly decorated with a touch of foiliage – although certainly not as spectacular as the conservatory.
The restaurant offers a three course prix fixe menu during weekend lunch times, which includes a 1/2 bottle of wine for £39.50 (or is £34.50 without). For my starter, I selected the hand picked Dorset crab with celeriac remoulade, which was absolutely gorgeous – fresh and crunchy, with a delightful savoury hint of the sea.
My husband had the leek and potato Vicyssoise with Parmesan cheese scones – and both of us helped ourselves to the wonderful selection of breads from the bread basket, too. The soup was absolutely fantastic – smooth, creamy and packed with flavour.
For the main course, my husband selected oven roasted Iberico pork loin, which was served on a bed of petit pois a la Francais, accompanied with a foamed Alsace bacon sauce. The meat was tender and rich, and the bacon sauce added a sweet note that elevated the whole dish.
I had a hard time picking my main, but in the end I went for the honey glazed breast of Goosnargh duck, and crispy duck leg Pastilla. It was served with young turnips, sugar snaps and a ruby port sauce.
This was utterly divine. I’d wanted to try pastilla for a long time – it’s a sweet and savoury dish usually made with pigeon or chicken, baked in filo pastry with sugar and cinnamon. The combination of the crispy pastry, the sticky glaze on the duck, and the sweet, poached vegetables was incredible, and the duck breast portion was pretty big. It was absolute heaven!
Because it was my birthday, I insisted we have the Clos Maggiore Caramelised Valrhona Chocolate Sensation for Two, which had a £10 supplement. It came decorated with gold leaf and sparkling, iridescent candy and spin sugar. The Armagnac jelly was delicious, but the presentation was a little slapdash, as you can see… The burnt honey icecream was fabulous, and all in all, it was a treat to have a variety of sweet morsels to dig into at the end of the meal.
Unexpectedly, I also got a plate decorated with a birthday message and candles, as well as macarons and chocolates. What a nice touch!
Clos Maggiore definitely lived up to my expectation as a lovely place to enjoy a meal with your special someone. Dining in the conservatory remains my unrealised dream – although it was nice even to get a peek at it across the room. The food is classic haute cuisine – high quality produce cooked with classical French techniques – and the portions were definitely large enough that I didn’t feel the need to order a side for my main. Dining here certainly isn’t for the everyday, but if you have a special occasion coming up, this is one of the nicest places to celebrate it!
Just like plenty of places that have generated a lot of buzz, the hype can work against your enjoyment of the evening if you let yourself get carried away by the enthusiastic praise. I’ve read plenty of negative reviews of the restaurant from people who clearly expected angels to prepare the food using celestial produce, and to eat the whole thing riding on a cloud serenaded by harps and choirs. Bottom line – this is a beautiful, classical French restaurant with an exceptionally pretty dining area, and an emphasis on traditional gourmet food. If that sounds right up your street, book away! I wouldn’t hesitate to eat here again. Looking at these photos is actually torture, because I’m on a diet at the moment. I wonder where all the weight came from…?