Founded in 1868 as a gentleman’s club where entrepreneurs and businessmen huddled to discuss issues of colonial interest, The Commonwealth Club near Trafalgar Square is today an accessible and modern members club. After an end of summer spiffy-up relaunch, the club is preparing to open its kitchen to the non-member public. A lucky thing for non-mems too, as we had a delightful meal when invited to review the menu.
To be honest, The Commonwealth Club Kitchen isn't a terribly romantic venue but it is a comfortable place for a fine meal. Setting a historic tone to this otherwise contemporary setting is an impressive and rather large colonial style clock suspended above the dining room's entrance. Commissioned by Edward VII before he died in 1910, the clock tells the time in all 54 Commonwealth countries and links the club to its British Empire past. Aside from the Emperial clock, the vibe's not much to blather about, but the menu is more than deserving of consideration.
Starter courses of poached sea bass with pumpkin, cranberry and tarragon vierge (£7.50) and marinated squid with stuffed queen olives, red pepper and caper ketchup (£6) were attractive in presentation and intriguingly flavourful. We'd be happy to order either again. A main course of Chard Farm venison with “roast and braised” confit celeriac, red cabbage and bitter chocolate jus (£20) was ideal for a blustery December night as was the butternut squash risotto with iron bark pumpkin puree, salsify and parmesan crisp (£12.50). Pudding was a milky, refreshing and palate cleansing peppermint tea panna cotta with Turkish delight and almond grue (£6) that might just be worth a repeat visit alone.
Accompanying our meal with off dry confidence was a bottle of Mt Difficulty “Roaring Meg” Pinot Gris (Central Otago, 2009, £24.50). Assuming soon after seated we'd be having monkfish, we requested this Kiwi quaff (to later be informed the fish was no longer available). We were impressed how this Pinto Gris stood its own ground against our venison as well as how it complemented the other dishes, including dessert, without stealing the show or underwhelming.
During our Tuesday evening visit, the scene was laid back with what looked to be a few chummy colleague dinners and business dealings taking place. Service was friendly – not intrusive but genuinely interested in how we were doing. If you live or work in the area, be pleased to have this somewhat secret (it's definitely not on the tourist trail) and all round very good restaurant that's conducive to business and low key dining dates.
Commonwealth Club Kitchen is located within The Commonwealth Club at 5 Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5AP. Visit www.thecommonwealthclub.co.uk for details.