Restaurant of the Week: The Drunken Butler

Words by
Charlotte McManus
Photography by
Cris Barnet

12th May 2022

Combining antique decor and an intimate setting with highly creative dishes inspired by the founder's travels, make time for a long, indulgent tasting menu at this eclectic Clerkenwell haunt 

As many of London's restauranteurs continue to move away from the stuffy seatings and frou-frou heritage of tasting menu culture, it's refreshing to experience more creative, inclusive takes popping up across the capital. 

Located on Clerkenwell's Rosebery Avenue, The Drunken Butler is helmed by chef restauranteur Yuma Hashemi, who brings culinary inspiration from his own globe-trotting travels to influence his oft-evolving menu. The space is delightfully eclectic, combining Hashemi's own family heirlooms with an Aladdin's cave of antique shop finds, whilst the artwork adorning the walls, showing work by both emerging and established artists, changes regularly.

From Wednesday to Saturday, diners can choose between a six-course tasting menu (£95, with wine pairing for £90 extra) or the interactive £140 Chef's Table served for just two or three guests at the kitchen counter. Accommodating a maximum of 20 covers per night, diners also have the luxury of having their table for the entire evening, rather than the "two hour max" policy adopted by so many restaurants. However, come Sunday, proceedings become more relaxed still with an Iranian-themed "Persian Feast" served for both lunch and dinner. 

After a welcome aperitivo, a Negroni mixed personally by Hashemi using vintage spirits, our tasting menu kicks off with a trio of canapé "snacks", one veggie (burrata and parmesan), one fish (seaweed and flaky mackerel) and one meat (tender chicken served with gold-leaf crispy skin). The bites are served in a Cohiba cigar box - presentation is clearly something very close to Hashemi's heart and he uses it to reflect his own idiosyncratic tastes. 

Likewise, the ornate floral print tablecloth we are eating from, we are told, was sourced from the Liberty archives, making it quite possibly one of the most expensive tablecloths used in London. 

Next comes a creamy, yolky amuse bouche, served in the proverbial egg (the ceramic kind). We agree that the first starter is interesting, a delicate morsel of eel served alongside basil, sourdough ice cream and moreish parmagiana, though the scallop ramen dish that follows sparks unanimous praise around our table. 

Restaurant of the Week: The Drunken Butler

The monkfish is delightful with globules of red caviar and a creamy sherry sauce, whilst a rich sweetbread confection aptly displays Hashemi's jet-setting pizzazz with mezcal and nduja. Next come the meat dishes - first, expertly seared pigeon breast served alongside earthy sauces of morels and mole, followed by melt-in-the-mouth venison with prune jus and chocolate shavings.

Decidedly stuffed and more than a little indulged - not least with the excellent wine pairing, which Hashemi pours and presents personally with specialist vintages sourced from across Europe - there's just enough room for a coconut and herb-infused sour cream palate cleanser, before a candy-themed dessert is squidged in as coffees arrive.