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A Soho Club with Food – The Century:
I’ve worked and played a lot in Soho since the late 1970s and somehow The Century Club has passed me by. So when I was invited to review I was keen to fill the gap in my SohoOpening its doors in 2001, the club sits behind a discrete front door on Shaftesbury Avenue, and gets its name ‘Century’ from the one hundred steps you can climb to access four floors of exclusive member’s facilities; these include three cocktails bars, a screening room and a restaurant.However the pièce de résistance is Soho’s largest rooftop terrace, with views taking in the heart of the West End. The membership is made up of plethora of arts, media and entertainment types and it comes across as a less louche version of the Groucho Club which may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view.I have been invited to review the restaurant which has North African Executive Chef Ghani manning the stoves. He has an impressive Michelin-starred CV featuring some great London restaurants including Hakkasan, Viajante and Ottolenghi. The room has great views over Shaftesbury Avenue and has quite a masculine feel with dark woods and tones and comfortable chairs.It’s never the wrong time for a drink so my friend Steve and I selflessly decided to investigate some of the classics from the cocktail menu which are priced around the £10 mark. I had heard good things about the mixologists at The Century Club and wanted to put them through their paces.Steve’s Vodka Sour, a blend of Ketel One, Angostura Bitters, egg white, lemon juice and sugar syrup, had a cold citric sharpness combined with a strong vodka kick. Perfect for getting those gastric juices going. But I wanted something with a bit more depth of flavour on a damp autumnal day. A Boulevardier was just the ticket, blending Campari, my favourite Antica Formula vermouth with Bulleit Bourbon. The drink was invented as a take on the Negroni by Harry McElhone at his Harry’s New York Bar in Paris and this had the requisite bittersweet flavour with additional smokiness coming from the bourbon.For our starters we moved on to a delicious peach and honeysuckle flavoured bottle of Ciro Bianco Greco, Librandi, Calabria, 2016. Steve’s pan-fried foie gras with confit duck, bourbon-preserved cherries, grilled walnut and raisin bread was a rich, earthy smooth-textured plateful with an acid sharpness from the cherries.I loved my dish of tender charred Octopus with rose harissa, cassava charcoal, lemon yoghurt and sea lettuce. The tasty cephalopod was tender with a great char but the dish could have used more heat from the harissa.Steve’s 30 day dry-aged Speyside Aberdeen Angus 13 oz Ribeye Steak had lots of flavour from the charcoal Josper grill but needed the fat to have been rendered down a bit more.Lightly poached salmon with Romanesco, kefir, Cauliflower and smoked salmon gnocchi was a delicate and prettily presented plateful.The light chocolate mousse with hazelnut ice cream and cacao nibs tuile was fluffy and decadent – my kind of mousse…And the selection of well-chosen and kept Neal”s Yard British cheeses with oat and buttermilk crackers and membrillo were the perfect end to the meal especially with a fiery glass of Chateau de Breuil VSOP Calvados. With chef Ghani’s North African influences shining through in many of the plates, The Century Club offers a sophisticated, global dining space away from the hurly-burly of Soho. It’s worth a visit.
The Century Club 61-63 Shaftesbury Ave, London, W1D 6LQ