Well the title of this post is a bit misleading, as at the time of writing I’ve yet to eat at the new Clarkes restaurant in Peterborough. Instead, this is a bit of a pre-review and comment based on a recent review by the Evening Telegraph’s Nigel Thornton.
Headed up by chef-patron Lee Clarke, Clarkes certainly has the potential to be one of the best restaurants in Peterborough. We’ve seen the likes of Jim’s Beehive go from strength to strength (albeit with the closure of Jim’s Bistro) so there is hopefully a market in Peterborough for diners willing to pay a little bit more for a freshly cooked menu.
I’ve been following the progress of Clarkes on twitter and have been hearing nothing but good so far. In his review of Clarkes, Nigel rated the restaurant top marks of 10 out of 10 so there should be no question about the standard being set. My only issue with a top scoring review is that it doesn’t leave any room for improvement – where do you go from here? I’ve eaten at restaurants myself where I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the quality of food, the service from the staff and the experience as a whole, but to score ten out of ten can leave the restaurant vulnerable to undeserved criticism. It wasn’t so long ago that another ET reviewer (this time John Baker) gave Ali’s Balti House on Lincoln Rd the top 10/10 score. Are both restaurants equal? Should reviewers for the same publication be following set rating guidelines? As I’ve not yet eaten at either Ali’s Balti House or Clarkes I can’t comment, but I would be interested in seeing how the two restaurants compare.
Anyway, lets focus on Clarkes.
Tucked away off Lincoln Rd (the City Centre end) along North Street in the old Masonic Hall (formerly known as Mellilos and more recently Pussy Galores), I gather Clarkes has been completely gutted and refurbished to accommodate not only the restaurant but also the North Street Bar. Parking is a breeze as it’s only a few feet away from both the Westgate (Beales) House carpark and an NCP.
Looking on the Clarkes restaurant website, they serve a “prix fixe” menu offering a set course selection of great sounding British dishes for a fixed price. I’m not sure if they also have an À la carte menu, but at £30 for two courses or £40 for three, they’re definitely aiming at the top end of the dining market.
Currently Clarkes are running a promotion with daily-deal website Groupon who are offering a massive discount on the above menu price. I’m always keen to get a bargain so have bought Groupon deals in the past, but I’m always cautious about whether restaurants can cope with the demand. Groupon is a fantastic way for people to test the waters with a new restaurant and first impressions count. Customers getting a deal won’t hold back when telling their friends about the restaurant, good or bad.
My hope is that Clarkes use their Groupon promotion as a marketing exercise and can maintain their high standards for both Groupon diners and those paying full price. The last thing Groupon diners want is to feel like they’re being treated any differently to other diners.
Lee Clarke is (understandably) keen to share his chef credentials, having previously worked for the Roux brothers and Marco Pierre-White so fine dining is something he has experience with.
Does Peterborough need another restaurant? In my opinion, absolutely.
We have a pretty vibrant restaurant scene with a good mix of both chain and independent restaurants as it is, but increasing the competition helps to raise the standard of good restaurants.
Not all diners are looking for fine(r) dining. Some are on a budget, are looking for something casual or even just a fill-your-face style world buffet but one thing they all have in common is that they demand a better experience for their hard earned money. Those that fail to deliver on top quality food or substandard service are doomed to failure. If the ET’s review is anything to go by, Clarkes have a bright future ahead of them in Peterborough.
If you’ve eaten at Clarkes I’d love to hear from you – leave your comments in the box below! Email and IP addresses are verified, so please don’t bother leaving libellous comments.
Clarkes Restaurant contact details
19 North Street, Peterborough
Tel. 01733 892 681
Lunch from 12.00pm to 3.00pm
Tuesday to saturday
Dinner from 6.30pm to 9.30pm
Tuesday to Saturday