Hot Spot: Luca, Clerkenwell, London

Luca is a classy but expensive option if you're looking for Italian-inspired food in an understated British setting, says Grayling's Catherine Clifford.

The story?

I have been desperate to try Luca since it opened last year. From the team behind The Clove Club, often named as one of the world’s best restaurants, this tiny restaurant tucked away in EC1 offers British seasonal ingredients with an Italian twist.

The reality?

This is not going to make it into the world’s best restaurant list, but it’s still pretty damn good. Dark green and wooden interiors host quiet corners and diligent staff. Lunch offers a choice between dining in a bar that feels like a first class railway lounge from days gone by, or in the larger restaurant area. The restaurant has a longer menu and offers the famous Parmesan fries that have had half the restaurant reviewers in London drooling.

The damage

We had no wine, but the bill continued to add up. The lunchtime special was £17 for two courses; the final bill was £70 for three people.

Signature dish?

The arancini balls made me understand why people bother to deep-fry risotto. However, the standout dish was the pasta: fresh tagliatelle with green pistachio pesto. We opted out of desserts, but the menu included all the Italian classics. 

Dining experience ****

The food is worth the hype, but the portions are not.

Chances of a last-minute booking ****

Considering Luca is one of London’s most favourably reviewed new restaurants, the place was barren for most of the meal at peak lunch time.

Client wow factor *****

Excellent if you want a private lunchtime spot with standout food. Not somewhere to impress clients with a buzzy atmosphere.

Overall ****

Attentive staff, beautiful old-world restaurant and delicious food. I’d love to return for the full menu.

88 St John St, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4EH
020 3859 3000

Reviewed by Catherine Clifford, account manager, Grayling

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