Members Only

Soho House Restaurant – Soho

My boss is a member of the Soho House/Shoreditch House family, which means that if we’re at an awards ceremony, or entertaining a client, inevitably I’ll find myself there with a £11 martini in hand and one eye on the door just in case a celebrity I actually care about walks in.

It’s never happened, unfortunately. The closest I’ve come is hearing about the time one of my directors started going off about how shit Vanilla Sky was while she was standing next to Penelope Cruz on the roof garden at Soho House. I guess I’m not meant to roll with the big wigs (although apparently last time I was there, some 20-year-old hot shot told me that without a doubt his ‘client’ was the next Mark Ronson. Wanker). In any case, every time I’ve been to one of the ‘Houses’, I usually leave wondering why in the world anyone would pay £700 a year to be a member.

Same goes for last week at Soho House’s restaurant. I saw no celebrities and enjoyed an ‘alright’ lunch that didn’t warrant price of the meal. However, there were some definite high points. The service was excellent.

I was the first one to arrive out of my colleagues. Immediately, I was offered bread, water and a paper. A very nice touch. Tasty, too.

After everyone arrived, we were brought more bread and my boss ordered a round of cocktails. Our server spent a good deal of time with us, recommending his favourites, and being honest about it, i.e. telling my boss to go with the lamb over the steak. “The steak is good, of course. But it’s a steak – you can get a good steak anywhere. Go with the lamb,” he said. “It’s one of a kind.” I like that in a server. It takes guts to say that to a paying customer.

I started out with the Dorset Crab and Avocado (£12.50):

A nice little starter, but the crab lacked the sweetness I would have expected.  There was a nice aioli type sauce that made up for any lacking richness, and the half lemon (in lovely posh cheesecloth) was a welcome garnish.

For my main, the Lemon Sole with Shrimp and Samphire (£18.50):

This wasn’t what I was expecting. Usually I’m used to sole being much flatter, and a bit more like a scallopini than anything else.  This fish was thick – probably a good two inches tall, though you can’t tell int he picture.  The golden crust was perfect and the prawns and sauce and samphire gave the dish nice contrasting sweet savoury flavours. I wish the sole, itself had a bit more punch to it though. Sole is a mild fish, true, but I should have been tasting the quality of the meat rather than just the boldness of its toppings.

For dessert, the table shared some mediocre petit fours for £4, which I didn’t bother surreptitiously taking a photo of.

It wasn’t a bad lunch by any means, but until I find a members club that ticks all the boxes, I’ll be leaving it to my boss to ‘get me in’, as they say.

Soho House on Urbanspoon

Square Bar, Shoreditch House – Shoreditch

Shoreditch House

Here’s my thing about Shoreditch House: I like it, but I feel like I should like it more. Everyone raves, but I can’t stop thinking that they do so because they think they should.  The space itself is fabulous. Where else can you get a bowling alley, swimming pool, restaurants, bars and pretty people all in one place? But my thing about a members-only club that you pay thousands of pounds per year to be a part of is that in addition to all the amenities, service should be flawless. And the two times I’ve been to Shoreditch House, it’s not been. At all.

My office took a gaggle of journalists out last week for drinks in the Square Bar on the fifth floor of Shoreditch House.  I’ve already mentioned the service, so I won’t concentrate on that. (However, if you want more specifics, service was slow, drinks were missed and there were quite a few visible eye rolls from the staff that weren’t appreciated.) Instead, the food and drinks…

Starters

Olives – Some of the best I’ve had actually.  Brilliant green, not too salty. Just sort of perfect.

Quail eggs with some sort of mild creamy sauce – very nice!  I love quail’s eggs. It’s something that you don’t really get in America too much. Quail itself is on every menu under the sun, but their eggs are nowhere to be found.  Incidentally,the best quail egg I ever had was also at Shoreditch house, but it was in the form of a giant scotch egg – and it was cooked by Heston Blumenthal.

Quail Eggs - Shoreditch House

Quail Eggs - Shoreditch House

Foccacia – Didn’t love this.  It was four pieces of bread with sardines, peppers, prosciutto and something else I forgot.  It wasn’t great.

Pizzas

We had pizzas all around, but I only tried two – one with olives and capers, and one with prosciutto and salad.  The latter was wonderful.  Very light, airy and fresh. I love that they didn’t drown the salad-pizza in cheese.  It was perfect.

Prosciutto Pizza - Shoreditch House

Prosciutto Pizza - Shoreditch House

Drinks

Pom fizz – Meaning pomegranate champagne cocktail.  This was pretty good, but I couldn’t actually taste pomegranate.  In fact, it may be that I was served the wrong drink…

French martini – I loved this, but my friends complained that there wasn’t enough Chambord in it. I should mention, however, that they were all on the Chambord PR team.

Mojito – 10/10. One of the best mojitos I’ve had in a while.  It made me forget the shit weather outside :)

Shoreditch House on Urbanspoon