Vic Naylor’s in Clerkenwell is one of a collection of reasonably
up-market restaurants along St John Street. On entering the
bar/restaurant one is struck by the effort that has been put into the
interior, yet somehow it appears very natural. It’s also slightly more
distinctive than the formulaic modern interiors that seem to be the
We arrived half hour early and sat for a drink at the bar. There’s a
relaxed feel to the place and a slow trickle of people coming in through
the door filling up the restaurant. Once our drinks were finished it
took nothing more than hopping off our stools and a glance at the
waitress for her to show us straight to our table. This was certainly
impressive attention to customers, especially given that there only
seemed to be two waiting staff for the 30 or 40 seats in the restaurant.
Service throughout was also excellent. We weren’t hurried at any point,
if we asked for a couple of minutes to decide on something then we would
be left alone and, importantly, someone would come back to see to us a
few minutes later. There were no large gaps between courses (unless we
felt we needed the rest) and despite time being shared between the two
staff they obviously kept in touch with who had ordered what dish so
there was no need to ask as they brought food to the table.
The food was very good too. Throughout the three courses on the menu
there is a variation from the more conservative to more adventurous
modern european food, including (on the night we visited) steak, duck
breast and risotto, and prawn and crab ravioli. Each course was well
presented and richly flavoured yet somehow had a lightness of touch as
the different tastes balanced each other.
The only possible downside was I felt that the winelist was slightly on
the expensive side (ranging from around £12 upwards), although that
seems to be par for the course nowadays. The wine itself (a Rioja
Blanco) was good, however, so there has obviously been some thought put
into the selection. Price-wise we came in at just over £40 a head,
including a decent tip, which for three courses, wine, water and coffee
seemed fair. In fact, given the prices of some London restaurants it’s
very good value for money.
Clerkenwell has certainly changed over the past few years. When I first
worked there back in 1998 you certainly wouldn’t think of going there on
a Saturday evening on the off-chance of a good restaurant being open.
Clerkenwell has been transformed into a trendy night-spot (albeit a
slightly exclusive one) and, along with most of the other good
restaurants in the area, booking is advised for Vic Naylor’s.
Address: 38-40 St John Street, London, EC1M 4AY
Nearest tube: Farringdon