Near Finsbury Square, a trendy club dining room that welcomes outsiders for lunch and dinner, and makes a congenial place for a friends’ rendezvous; the food has no great ambitions, but it is competently realised, and complemented by an interesting range of New World wines.
e don’t usually review clubs, but this one opens its dining room to non-residents for lunch and dinner, so we thought we ought to check it out.
Even if you know that a club lets in the plebs, such as us, there’s always a little frisson on entering what’s theoretically a private space, and the East Room is no exception. It has the perfect combination of being both handy (just north of Finsbury Square) and discreet. If you weren’t armed with the address, you’d never guess it was there at all.
You don’t feel excluded as a non-member, and the staff are certainly welcoming. It perhaps helps that the lunch crowd is neither obviously Shoreditch-artified nor particularly Cityish. You can fit into either category, or neither, and no one‘s really going to notice.
The dining room, on an upper floor, is a sort of 60s/70s mismatch of the type which so often seems to figure in Wallpaper* (or at least did the last time we looked at a copy). It’s a congenial, if tightly packed, space whose star feature is a charming and very unexpected terrace. The room itself is dominated by a large bar.
Drink, in clubby style, is a large part of the operation here, and it‘s done well. A Virgin Mary, for example, was exemplary, and there’s a wide range of wines, pretty much exclusively New World. The wine list – presented as a matrix, by grape and price – is rather unconventional, or you can sample (quite pricey) novelties by the glass from one of those fancy machines which keep the oxygen out. Our Brazilian red slipped down very nicely.
The food is good, without in any way being remarkable. For economy, you might choose from the buffet, which looked like you might find at a well-organised thirtysomething private birthday party.
The food direct from the kitchen is a bit more ambitious, but again often a bit private-festivity-like – not especially demanding, but enjoyable nonetheless. In this category came the likes of a vegetable curry, some roast figs and a rather sloppy (in the structural sense) cheesecake. Scallop ceviche – perhaps the sort of thing you’d only tend to find at at a more sophisticated sort of party – was pretty good. There’s also more solid meaty fare, which we didn’t sample.
All-in-all, then, a jolly place for a mates’ get-together. Informal and tightly-packed as it is, however, it struck us as less of a ‘natural’ for a business tête-à-tête than we’d thought it might be.