Claude Compton worked at Club Gascon and Petersham Nurseries before opening his own place in April 2013. The dining room is above a champagne bar called Amuse Bouche, and has a casual feel to it, with no tablecloths and the ubiquitous wooden floor. The hard surfaces make for a noisy atmosphere, the tables quite closely packed and tiny.
The menu was short, with just three choices per course. There was a short wine list and, with a champagne bar downstairs, a quite good selection of champagnes. The list started at £21. Decenio 2002 Reserva was £24 for a wine that retails at £13, Taittinger NV was £53 for a champagne that costs £36 in the high street, Cristal 2004 a relative bargain at £185 given that the same wine will set you back £169 in a shop.
Bread was apparently made from scratch, and certainly had good flavour: toasted sourdough (easily 13/20). Quail with nectarine, apple, spinach and sweet pickle yoghurt was the best dish of the evening. The quail was cooked carefully, with the fruit providing some useful acidic balance (13/20). This was better than smoked aubergine with spring onion, radish and goat cheese, the aubergine rather sludgy in texture; the radish had quite good flavour but it is hard to get excited about such a basic dish (11/20).
Rabbit came with chorizo, black olive, tomato, carrots and thyme. The rabbit avoided the dryness that so often afflicts this meat, and the carrots had good flavour, the thyme being a little overpowering (12/20). Sea bream was served with cucumber, dill, potato, pea shoots and lovage. The fish was cooked accurately, the vegetables going quite well with the fish, though the lovage added little for me (12/20).
Of the three desserts available, one was affogato and one was just strawberries, so we shared a plate of cheese. The few thin slices of hard cheese added up to not very much, padded out with chutney and more bread. The bill came to £54 a head, albeit with a bottle of champagne. If you ordered a modest wine then a typical bill per head would be more like £45. The waitresses were competent but seemed quite stretched. Overall, Claude’s Kitchen is a pleasant neighbourhood restaurant, but not somewhere that I would make a journey to seek out.