Kensington restaurant Clarke’s catches Taylor Swift’s eye ahead of UK Eras tour


For decades, chef and restarateur Sally Clarke has entertained the great and good in art, music, fashion and film at her restaurant in Kensington, London.

Sitting quietly on Kensington Church St with its signature green awning, Clarke’s counts among its fans the artist David Hockney, rock stars Bono and Bryan Ferry, and supermodel Kate Moss, all of whom appreciate the eatery’s understated charm, tranquil atmosphere, and excellent food.

Another of its most famous patrons was the late artist Lucian Freud, who ate breakfast and lunch there almost every day, and asked Clarke to sit for him on several occasions.

“What he ate for breakfast with us changed over the years, but it was Earl Grey tea in the beginning with milk and a huge pain aux raisins – the size of a saucer – which he devoured easily,” Clarke recalled in her Guardian obituary for Freud.

“As the years went on, he graduated to coffee, a sort of latte which we called a Mr Freud latte, being even milkier than normal.”

Ahead of the restaurant’s 40th birthday this winter, The Independent understands that pop star Taylor Swift could soon become its newest patron, as Clarke’s focus on high quality seasonal produce has caught the singer’s eye while she plans her London visits in June and August.

Taylor Swift is bringing her Eras Tour to the UK this summer (AFP via Getty Images)

With a passion for food that was ignited by family holidays in France, Clarke began her career in hospitality by taking a hotel and catering operations course in Croydon, before studying at the renowned Cordon Bleu School in Paris.

In between stints working for Prue Leith at her newly formed Leith’s School of Food and Wine, Clarke journeyed to California, where she met Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. They became friends, with Waters mentoring Clarke and continuing to serve as a daily inspiration for the chef.

She returned to London in 1983 to scout for restaurant premises. Her initial goal was to open a modest establishment with a simple menu and dazzling wine list.

While the plan, as the story on her website states, was to move to the countryside after a few years, things in London “snowballed a bit… but perhaps that is an understatement”.

Actor Ralph Fiennes at Clarke’s in 2016 (PA)

Swift’s impending arrival in the UK is causing a buzz, with a study from Barclays predicting that she could help generate a £1bn boost for the economy as Swifties descend on Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff, and London between June and August.

Newly re-elected London mayor Sadiq Khan is among those keen to welcome Swift to the capital, telling The Independent: “As a proud Swiftie, I’m very excited that the phenomenal Taylor Swift is coming to London next month and her amazing fanbase here in the capital and beyond will give her a big London welcome.

“Taylor’s decision to perform more nights of her record-breaking Eras tour in our capital than anywhere else is further proof that London’s music scene never goes out of style.”

He added: “Her seven gigs across June and August will bring more than half a million music fans together, providing a massive boost to our hospitality sector and wider economy. I hope it will encourage even more people to enjoy the fantastic range of live music available in our city, including grassroots music venues, and inspire the next generation of London’s musical talent.”


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