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Friday, 28 August 2015
Name: Clerkenwell & Social
Where: 2-5 St John's Square, London, EC1M 4DE, www.clerkenwellandsocial.com
Cost: All cocktails are £8.95, and weekdays from 5pm to 8pm, they are 2 for 1. On Saturdays until 9pm, it is 2 for 1 all day, on both cocktails and pizza. White wines start at £16.95 for a Finca Valero Macabeo, D.O. Carinena from Spain. Red wines start at £17.95 for a Carignan-Grenache blend from France. Perrie-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne is well priced at £55. Meantime London Pale Ale is on tap at £4.90 per pint.
Pizzas cost from £8 for a Margherita to £12 for a spicy Nduja. There are daily specials, as well as a variety of bar snacks, and sharing boards of cheese (£12) or cured meats (£14).
About: Clerkenwell & Social was opened in June 2015 by the Marylebone Leisure Group (the team behind The Marylebone and The Princess of Wales and Barsmith Primrose Hill) the bar is next to the ancient St John's Castle in Clerkenwell.
Set over two floors, Clerkenwell & Social has the feel of a quirky pub, with vintage books suspended from the ceiling, also forming the covers for the cocktail menu.
It specialises in house-infused cocktails and pizza, and has a large outdoor terrace. The bar makes its own infusions for example coffee rum, passion fruit vodka, wild berry gin, mustard vodka.
What We Ate: We really wanted to like the food at Clerkenwell & Social, but unfortunately it was a total let-down. We ordered a couple of bar snacks and pizze, and were surprised to find everything brought to the table at the same time. This meant we had a mad rush to eat everything before it all went cold. The arancini with mushrooms and truffle oil (£4.50) was completely non-descript, and was served with what seemed to be shop-bought pesto.
Worse still were the calamari (£6) - these were dry and tough, served with a tartare sauce that tasted straight out of a jar.
For the pizze, we chose the Portobello (£10.50) and the Nduja (£12). The Portobello pizza was described as having a topping of Portobello mushrooms, Dolce Latte cheese, pine nuts and truffle oil. At first glance, the pizza looked passable if a bit colourless, but on the palate, the dough was very dry and brittle, it lacked flavour and any texture. As for the topping, it also seemed to have Mozzarella rather than the creamy, blue Dolce Latte cheese as described.
The Nduja pizza (£12) was marginally better but the dough was still very dry and chewy. It had tomatoes, mozzarella, spicy Nduja sausage and pancetta (bacon).
What We Drank: We had a couple of cocktails to start, these were well made and strong. "Breaking Good" had Pisco infused with chili, lime juice, tarragon syrup, homemade bitters and egg white. "Love is a Smoke" featured a blend of Merlot, Aperol and Campari and Bourbon, infused with smoked apple-wood chips.
With our pizza, we had a couple of pints of lovely Meantime London Pale Ale (£4.90).
Likes: The cocktails were strong, well-made, and very well priced at £8.95. Even better during happy hour weekdays between 5-8pm, or all day Saturdays until 9pm when all cocktails are 2 for 1. The range of beers is good.
Dislikes: The food was a real let-down.
Verdict: A great local place for well-made, strong and reasonably-priced cocktails and craft beers. The Italian-inspired menu read well, but its delivery was a let-down and needs to be looked at by the restaurant management.