Pete Wells files on Jason Atherton and Stephen Starr's The Clocktower this week, he enjoys the food more than the decor, or the bar scene, on the way to awarding it two stars. Eater critic Ryan Sutton gave the restaurant three stars recently. Things get off to a shaky start for Wells as he kicks over the "burning candles in glass lanterns" at the entrance before having to rescue a female friend from the prying eyes of what sounds like a barroom full of Ashley Madison subscribers. But once he gets passed the grape colored pool table and the clubby feel of the room he finds much to like on the menu, especially the seafood:
There’s citrus-marinated shaved fennel, so bright that it tingles, over the chilled lobster salad served in its shell. A sweet king crab leg with cucumber-pickle curls and dashi jelly rides high on chipped ice spread out over a silver pedestal. Cubes of raw scallop and hamachi are spread over a chunky pesto that’s surprisingly right. This chef can cook. Who is he, anyway?
After telling you, he happily concludes that "there is very little egotism in Mr. Atherton’s cooking. He seems to have the peculiar idea of cooking to make other people happy, not to reflect his own glory." Overall he finds the food "festive and generous" although notes that it is not obviously British. He is more of a fan of the wine list than of the cocktails, which he finds tend to "have two or three more ingredients than they need." On the other hand he is a fan of the work of pastry chef Sébastien Rouxel. Two Stars.