12-14 Basil Street

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What’s the vibe?

Let’s get that name out of the way first, shall we; while the immature (okay, us) might snigger at its associations with, er, clinics, it actually refers to that well-known expression of appreciation we make with our hands. And it’s more than likely you’ll be clapping by the end of your meal, because everything from the food to the decor has been perfectly calibrated to cocoon you in a swathe of good taste; with outposts in Beirut – where the concept was first born – Dubai, Riyadh and Ibiza, you get the idea of the clientele they’re aiming at.

Located somewhat unexpectedly within a refurbished part of Knightsbridge tube station, all signs of ticket counters and metal barriers are gone, replaced with corridors of blond wood, greenery sprouting artfully from walls, intricate glass lanterns, and a couple of rather nifty ceiling decorations: one, an archway made from fabric squares of different blue kimonos, another, chandeliers constructed from plastic Japanese toys (yes, that is Godzilla dangling right above your head). On the sixth floor are two open kitchens – a sushi counter and a robata grill – and beyond them an expansive space illuminated by floor-to-ceiling windows, where comfortable, leather-backed chairs line solid, wooden tables. It all smacks delightfully of expense-account dining, but if those expenses are yours (or your boss’s), you’ll want to settle in for the duration.

Clap interior

What to eat?

You could go a la carte, where dishes start at a non-heart-attack-inducing £6, though climb swiftly to the heady regions of £98 for a ribeye steak, or, for lunch, try the good value, three-course set menu, for £35 per person. But if you’re aiming for a blowout, you’re in good hands with the omakase menu (which covers most of the big hitters, in any case) under the auspices of French culinary director and head chef Renald Epie. There are several vegetarian options, but those who aren’t will appreciate the moreish, yielding, KFC-style nuggets of rock shrimp tempura which come with a spicy mayo dip, while the almost-still-mooing wagyu beef tartare, beautifully adorned with lines of cod roe, and laid on slivers of brioche, is silky and ferrous. Hot little cubes of crispy rice with avocado taste like an arancino and a roast potato had a love child, and are cooled down by hamachi ‘the Clap way’ (a phrase we’ll forgive in this instance, as it includes crunchy slices of grilled garlic, a soupcon of truffle oil, and fresh, transparent slices of raw amberjack).

Sushi platters are garnished with flowers, and taste as good as they look; you might receive crispy sweetcorn and prawn tempura sushi, pink, fatty, melting slices of otoro sashimi, or plump, spicy tuna maki with pickled radish and asparagus. Of course, every Japanese restaurant in London worth its soy sauce has to have black cod miso on the menu, and Clap is no exception; it’s livened here, however, with yuzu and pickled ginger, particularly alongside moreish sticky rice. It’s also our duty to tell you of the existence of matcha cheesecake, chocolate fondant, and their ‘tira’miso’ – miso sponge soaked with espresso, vanilla mascarpone cream, and miso-caramel sauce.

What to drink?

The 26-strong cocktail list is inventive and playful (Shibuya Shakedown or a Bloody Geisha, anyone?) with some also alcohol-free, like the Zebra, a refreshing blend of Lyre’s amaretto, lime juice and vanilla. It’s worth ordering the Don’t Touch My Tralala just for the name, but also for the mix of Makers Mark, fresh mint, passion fruit and lime. There’s a bar one floor up which gets lively after dark, thanks to its massive DJ decks – you have been warned. Still, good to know it’s there if a business lunch turns into...well, a late one.

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