Retro seems to be coming back into fashion in the world of dining out. One aspect is a renewed interest in French cuisine in general, and old-style Gallic restaurants in particular. Another throwback is the resurgence of the supper club, of which recent examples, down Piccadilly way, include the Cuckoo and Pigalle clubs.
Apart from being one of the world’s most famous jazz clubs, Ronne Scotts – founded in 1959 but on its current site since 1965 – is almost certainly London’s oldest supper club. It has long been celebrated for its food. As the late Ronnie Scott so often joked: ‘a thousand flies can’t be wrong’.
The new owner, impresario Sally Greene, has no truck with such Bohemian style, and – for the club’s recent make-over – has brought in uber-chic Parisian designer Jacques Garcia. By his standards – as seen at the celebrated Costes hotel in Paris, for example – the re-working of the main room is fairly tame. Even though tables are small and quite tightly-packed, the result is pleasant rather than especially atmospheric.
The menu is now more ambitious than before, which is to say not very. Our main courses, for example, both consisted of protein (duck and lamb, respectively) on mash, with very little else. Starters are of the nature of soup or Caesar salad. (And, no, you can’t have bread with that.) Pudding was the likes of a rather dry apple tart or a sort of chocolate macaroon.
As long as you accept, however, that you’re really here for a whole night’s entertainment – in which jazz and alcohol will probably play no small parts – the food is by no means bad enough to spoil your evening. And the pleasant staff try hard to make it go with a swing.