LOTI Eats | Cloth

Smithfield’s newest wine bar puts you in safe hands

Set in a Grade II-listed building (and nestled next to some of the oldest residential buildings in London), Cloth is all about seasonal food and an approachable list of excellent, affordable wines. The wine bar and restaurant was born out of a collaboration between two wine importers, Joe Haynes and Ben Butterworth, and a chef, Tom Hurst (whose impressive CV includes Brawn, The Marksman, Levan, Salon, Larry’s and, most recently, Lasdun). As a result, you can expect a carefully curated bottle list and dishes from a chef who really knows what he’s doing.

Eat This

The menu at Cloth changes regularly and centres around the celebration of the best of British produce. Across London, ‘wine bar’ has become synonymous with ‘small plates’, but that’s not the case here, so expect starters, mains and desserts. Don’t worry, it’s just like riding a bike.

Out of the starters, the English asparagus with hen’s egg and tarragon stood out as a particular highlight – later on, we overheard that they’d run out; we weren’t the only ones who thought so. But the Dorset crab with celeriac and almond was also excellent, and perfect for scooping up with some of Cloth’s housemade bread.

They’ve got all bases covered on the mains, with a neat selection of one pasta dish, one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. We went for the meat (Norfolk chicken with creamed potato, king oysters and wild garlic) and the pasta (ricotta cappelletti with pecorino and Sarawak pepper), both excellent.

Dessert for us was a bowl of chips with Espelette pepper – no apologies, they’re contenders for some of the best in town. But they do also make their own superb ice cream, top-notch in an affogato. 

Drink This

Half of Cloth’s wine list comprises bottles from Joe and Ben’s own import and supply businesses – including grower Champagnes, new-wave Bordeaux and German wines. The other half is made up of wines from suppliers who champion small, independent, and sustainable producers (such as Emile Wines, The Winery, Fingal Rock, Carte Blanche, Winemakers Club and Raeburn). Though it’s pretty succinct, we took advantage of being served by co-owner Ben, a wine importer whose bottles feature on some of London’s most notable wine lists, and asked for his suggestions.

Why Go

If you’re someone who feels the setting of a restaurant is just as important as food and drink, go. Though it’s so new, it’s easy to feel as though Cloth has been around forever. The building – and the street it’s on – may as well have been, as it’s one of the few that survived the Great Fire of London in 1666, so it feels like a real piece of London history.

44 Cloth Fair, London EC1A 7JQ