It’s time to admit I have a problem: I am addicted to seafood. Over the last couple of months of restaurant-eating I've devastated the world’s supply of creatures that live under the sea – so you can blame me when confronted by David Attenborough’s sad, disappointed face on the BBC – but in true millennial fashion, I’m going to acknowledge I have a problem and still do it anyway. Thus I came across Claw, a street food joint turned into a permanent spot in Soho and server of that must succulent of seafood, crab!
I pushed through the crowds on one of the hottest days of the year, leaving the sunshine for a dark, mercifully air-conditioned restaurant. Think cool and minimalist here, with black walls lined by tables and a few choice lights illuminating your way to the semi-open kitchen. I was led downstairs, into an industrial basement space that added a bit of East London style to the Central location.
Unfortunately, I arrived twenty minutes before my best friend, who was faffing about somewhere in what I’m convinced was an attempt to make me look like a loser who’d been stood up. Meanwhile, our lovely and attentive waiter talked me through the menu and served me a summer-appropriate Samphire G&T (£6), coming from their taps and created with East London Gin and tonic.
After my friend arrived LATE, we decided to take inspiration from Cthulhu itself and order half the menu. We started with the crab beignets (£9, ‘WHAT’S A BIGNET?’ shouted my friend, also from Essex), and a pot of XO mussels (£10). The beignet was a hybrid between a doughnut and creamy crab and turned into a smooth surprise, with the pastry balancing with the fishy crab. The crab mayo, too, was an excellent choice. Meanwhile, the mussels – hailing from the River Teign – were absolutely gorgeous, wonderfully fresh, and not only were they covered in a delectable sauce, it possessed Claw's greatest idea to date.
They put a slice of sourdough underneath it. After finishing the mussels, there was a delightful, drenched present at the bottom. So simple, so fantastic. It was safe to say they were off to a great start.
Not content with terrorising the sea, we ordered two dishes from the land. My friend chose miso steak (£12) with cucumber kimchi, and I opted for merguez sausages (£9), which were lamb, smoked corn & sorrel. The sausages were nice enough, but it tasted oddly tart; perhaps this one wasn’t for me. On the other hand, the steak was rare, and the miso itself was gorgeous. Hit the nail on the head with that one.
Finally, we moved back to the sea. The crab on fries (£9) are their festival staple, and work just as well in a restaurant as when you’re drunk in a middle of a field. It’s a hearty portion and definitely a stomach filler, so it helps that the crab is so fresh and tasty. But the grilled Colchester oysters (3 for £9) were joint top with those mussels. I’m definitely not a purist: oysters taste great cooked. Especially when you get them here with a hearty portion of chilli butter on top. Fresh, delicious, and a must-try. And despite the fact that my friend was late, she loved them so much I gave her the last one. Where’s my Nobel Peace Prize?
The DesignMyNight Digest
It’s easy to be a one-trick pony. But Claw don’t rest on their, uh, fresh water rock pools. Not only is their crab offering worth a bite, their seafood is gorgeous. They even do a solid land option. If you’re after light bites in Central London in a cool location – with amazing hospitality too – you can’t go wrong with Claw.