Cosy, Chic & Captivating – it’s the Century Club, Soho

05 Dec 2017

Whether you have a membership to one, have visited as a guest, or have simply seen the photos, we all have an idea of what a private member's club is like in London. However, what you often don’t expect is fine dining — which somehow makes you feel completely welcome...

Century Club is exactly that. While I’d visited for a rooftop cocktail party on one occasion, the venue was packed and vibey — not the sort of place I expected to ever have a cosy sit-down feast.

However, it’s safe to say when I went to check out Century Club’s restaurant on a weeknight in November, I was more than pleasantly surprised – I was truly impressed.

Open since 2001, The Century Club — which hides behind an unmarked black door on Shaftesbury Avenue — calls itself “London’s best kept secret.”

Enter to a reception, then climb up the aptly-named club’s 100 steps to find four floors of members’ facilities, including a rooftop terrace and various lounges.

The restaurant, located on the top floor, is a cosy wintery oasis, with twinkling lights, comfortable couches and chairs, and even blankets to wrap up in.

Chef Ghani Ould-Rabah — who has worked in some of London’s most prestigious restaurants, including Ottolenghi and Hakkasan — delivers a modern take on British cuisine influenced by his Middle Eastern heritage.

It quickly became a seafood-heavy meal — completely fine with me.

Following some great recommendations by the attentive staff, we tucked into charred octopus (£12) and a special — scallop dumplings— to start, both mouthwateringly moist and packed with flavour.

Mains were succulent slices of roasted monkfish tail rolled in Parma ham (£23), and perfectly-cooked salmon with unique, battered gnocchi (£22), served with sides of organic mixed greens with ginger and soy (£4.50) and creamy mashed potato (£4.50) — very satisfying.

We washed it down with a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet for £30, chosen from an extensive wine list.

We rounded the meal off with some Century Club chocolate truffles and the Century Apple (£8), a unique take on an apple crumble that comes in a mousse-like form in the shape of the fruit. Not one I’d order again, but the presentation was Michelin-star worthy.

The food was served at a perfect pace, and the staff not too in-your-face, giving us the time to enjoy each course and chat without interruption. This seemed to be the case with everyone around us — although every request was met quickly.

I left feeling full, warm, and happy — and not at all like I’d eaten a meal in a stuffy, pretentious private club.

The only setback — you have to have a membership to dine there. But I’ll certainly jump at the next opportunity to feast on the menu as someone’s plus one.

Ali

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