I never really venture into Farringdon, my only memory of visiting this busy London district involves a few hazy trips to Fabric; so when an opportunity to head on down to one of the best restaurant bars in the area came around, I grabbed it by the horns.
Clerkenwell & Social is in St John’s Square, and though it may appear to have a pretty ordinary exterior, inside was a different story. My eyes were drawn to the neon Oscar Wilde quote on the far wall, and I must say, any bar sporting some kind of a literary theme will instantly impress me. Reflecting the history of the area, the theme is found in bookcases pottered about the bar and a ceiling decorated with a sea of classic books. It’s set over two floors, with the first floor availble for private hire. The main bar area where I spent the evening had all the trimmings of a chic low-lit city bar with deep wooden and dark blue tones. The seating was a mixture of black leather sofas and wooden tables, perfect for a mid-week drink, date night or catch up with friends.
For a Thursday evening, considering that we had to weave our way through the crowd of alfresco drinkers to enter the venue, it’s safe to say the atmosphere was buzzing. Crowd wise, it was largely full of young professionals enjoying an after work drink or two. With disco tracks blaring out, it made me forget it was a school night.
The Food and Drink
Known for using house infused spirits, home-made bitters and syrups, this is a must visit for cocktail enthusiasts, and they boast a seven-day-a-week happy hour, where you can nab two of their beauties for only £8.95. Their cocktail menu came encased in a vintage booklet with an impressive list of literary and film inspired cocktails. I went for the Much Ado About Rum, which contained dark rum infused with tamarind juice and molasses, honey, lemon juice and orange bitters. It came in a mini plant pot garnished with a sugar cane and had a divine, woody, smoky flavour. My guest went for the Beer New World, which married pale ale with amaretto, orange bourbon with honey, lemon juice and orange bitters. Despite strangely being beer-based it had just the right amount of sweetness.
Tanked up on cocktails, it was time to feast. Clerkenwell & Social sell bar snacks and sharing boards, but the real showstoppers are the pizzas. My guest and I shared the Nduja (£12.50) which had a tomato and mozzarella base topped with spicy Nduja sausage and pancetta. The sausage had a smoky burnt flavour with just the right amount of kick, with a doughy and crisp base. We also went for the Vegetariana (£12) topped with goats cheese, grilled vegetables, kale, balsamic glaze. A bold statement this may be, but it was one of best veggie pizzas I’ve ever eaten. The generous helping of creamy goats cheese paired beautifully with shredded bits of kale and thinly grilled courgettes: texture pairing heaven.
Clerkenwell & Social don’t do puds, providing us with the perfect excuse to try some more cocktails. Being a massive Breaking Bad fan, I opted for the Breaking Good, which boasted pisco infused with chilli, lime juice, tarragon syrup homemade bitters and egg white. The drink had a sharp yet refreshing taste, making it my personal favorite of the evening. My guest went for The Fappening, which contained toffee apple bourbon, lime and apple juice served with a caramelised brown sugar top. This was a sweet-tooth’s dream, mixing smooth butterscotch flavours. To finish off, our waitress insisted we try one of their house infused spirits. I went for the pear and chilli infused liquor, which was a punchy yet smooth delight where the flavour from the pear really came through.
This is a great bar. Whether you're meeting a friend, fancy a pizza, or want a mid-week cocktail this is a go-to. Not only is the location ideal and the staff lovely, it’s affordable, lively and friendly. Despite rarely ever heading down to Farringdon, I would definitely come back to Clerkenwell & Social.