By Hannah Pinnock, Arts Critic
On the surface The Art’s Club in Mayfair is an impressive venue boasting some brilliant wine, but the service and food fails to leave an impression.
On arrival, we were seated in a booth in the busy Brasserie and there we sat for a long 30 minutes before we managed to beckon a waiter over to quench our thirst on the hottest of London days.
After ordering an uncomplicated few drinks – that managed to become very complicated with the confusion with which they arrived – we settled into studying the menu. There was a selection of overpriced fish dishes, exceptionally expensive pasta dishes, and the usual burger type meals.
I settled for two middle-of-the-range dishes, and experienced indescribable food envy each time a friend’s course arrived, although this may have been purely visual, as no-one raved about their meals.
When our starters finally arrived it was at different times; embarrassingly our host was left without his starter despite some of our party having already finished their plates.
My starter was a delicious smoked salmon affair, although small in portion size, and horribly overpriced. With our mains came more wine, all of which was delicious, particularly the Italian Piemonte white, Gavi di Gavi- one of my all time favourites.
I had a “main” course that consisted of seven pieces of (regular sized) tortellini, priced at £18; thankfully our host had ordered dauphinoise potatoes and a few vegetable sides, so on this occasion I didn’t starve.
At this point a vast bottle of rosé arrived – larger than a magnum – so like any sensible person I filled up on that instead. We did have desserts and accompanying liquor, but by this point I was on my sixth glass of wine and the afternoon was clouding over, I may have had panna cotta with apricot?!
The decor of the venue is elegant and well finished throughout. It perfectly fits with the modern ostentatious style of most private members clubs in London. However the lunch crowd seemed more likely to be from the City (James Caan among them) than from the arty St. Martin’s.
High prices and mediocre service aside, it seems something of the historical intent of the institution has been lost; it claims to be “at the heart of contemporary cultural life in London”. I will reserve final judgement on that point for you.