It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has taken a massive hit due to the global pandemic. And while restaurants have been doing all they can to keep afloat as we recover, The Clock N8 in Crouch End has been selfless in helping others as well as nurturing their own business. We grabbed some time with general manager Dijonis Xhindoli to find out more.
Supporting the community is at the heart of The Clock N8’s mission, with a seasonally changing menu to ensure its customers enjoy the freshest ingredients from local farmers and suppliers. The owners, best friends Dijonis Xhindoli & Faruk Shalaku, always knew Crouch End would be the home of their first restaurant.
The village-like feel of the area (which can be unusual for many parts of London) has allowed them to build meaningful relationships with their customers, who have been a lifeline during the pandemic.
For their mission to give back to the community, the duo has created a cocktail in their honour, Crouchenders. Made from bourbon whiskey, rosemary syrup & lemon juice, £5 from every cocktail sold will be donated to the Hornsey food bank.
I met with Italian-born Dijonis, who told me how his and Faruk’s journey into the business began in 2019 when they opened The Clock N8. Their goal was to bring a unique take on modern British cuisine to Crouch End. While Dijonis had experience as a head chef at a top hotel in London, executive chef Faruk previously steered the helm at various eateries, including The Avenue restaurant and The Montcalm 5-star Hotel.
The Clock N8 was an instant crowd-puller, and they counted regulars in the hundreds. But when the pandemic struck, like other food businesses, they had to rethink tactics and bring a renewed focus to keep the business going. As well as doing takeaways, they created a cocktail called ‘Crouchenders’. Made from bourbon whiskey, rosemary syrup & lemon juice, £5 from every cocktail sold would be donated to the Hornsey Food Bank.
The idea was backed by the community, who were more than happy to part with their cash, thus helping the restaurant and the Hornsey food bank.
“The Crouch End community has been amazing during the pandemic – supporting us financially and emotionally,” Dijonis reflected. “We wanted to honour the kindness of Crouchenders with our new cocktail and give back to the community by donating the profits to the Hornsey Food Bank.” The Hornsey food bank provides for almost 400 people each week, and they have been overwhelmed by the support from the local community.
The Clock N8 can be described as a modern British restaurant offering fine dining but without fuss. The atmosphere is relaxed, the décor quirky with awesome artwork from Camden’s resident artist Alberto Petrivelli and the staff’s demeanour warm and friendly. But what about the food?
Well, my guest Melanie and I were seriously blown away; It was that good. The meat is supplied from the butchers a few doors down, as is the cheese for the cheeseboard. Pretty much everything else on the menu seems to be from local sources. The emphasis is serious about being part of the local community.
Back to the food, we had halloumi chips, scallops in lentil soup served in fancy shell dishes as starters, and for the mains, it was steak and chips for Melanie while I devoured the hake on a bed of crushed potatoes. The food was piping hot, beautifully presented and well-executed.
Sadly, I didn’t have room for any dessert, but when Melanie’s warm chocolate and ale cake accompanied with salted caramel ice cream drizzled with hot chocolate sauce arrived, I couldn’t help but have a wee taste. Simply beautiful. Now Faruk is big on keeping the Clock N8 menu as British as he can, but this dessert was created by Dijonis himself.
“Faruk was horrified that I wouldn’t make the ice cream with eggs in the traditional British way”, said Dijonis. “It’s the way gelato is made, and I got my own way.” And we are glad you did Dijonis. The ice cream, sorry gelato, is how we think it should be done too.
The Clock N8 – Where and How?
You can find The Clock N8 at 59 The Broadway, London N8 8DT. View their menu or make a reservation online at theclockn8.com.
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