Breakfast at The Arts Club, London
The Arts Club 40 Dover Street London W1S 4NP
I am not an artist, never been one, although the lifestyle certainly appeals; the birds, the booze, the brawls, the South Bank shows and the lovely cottage in the Dordogne, what’s not to like? And if I was an artist I could then become a member of the Arts Club in Mayfair and enjoy a breakfast like this every day.
Founded in 1863 by, amongst others Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope, the Georgian townhouse is unremarkable from the outside, as is right and proper. In fact all you really see is your reflection in the gloss black of the door. Inside is a subtle reception, stylish people man (men?) the desk and the latest iMac, surely not actually needed not just for reception, has its imperious designer back to you. It looks good of course, this is not a place to have a Dell on display after all. What artist ever used a PC?
You have to be a member to get in the club, but I know one and he’s buying me breakfast so that’s all right. The dining room just beyond reception is bright and lovely, crisp lights shine down and there is a bustle behind the bar as chefs prep for lunch. This makes the room lively and fun and beyond the French windows a secret London garden beckons.
Gwyneth Paltrow collaborated on the decor here along with David d’Almada, but it’s not all yellow. In fact it’s very nice; a brasserie feel but with added buzz. Chef Raphael Duntoye, once of Le Petite Maison, apparently does excellent lunches and dinners while in the evenings Director of Music Mark Ronson can sometimes be found in residence.
Breakfast here is definitely club class; the tea strainer has its own drip stand whereas at home I simply lob the tea bag from cup to bin with one well-practised movement. Toast is sliced standard, but the marmalade, which is definitely all yellow, is French. I look longingly at the next table’s Full English, it’s so well-lit it sparkles – a blogger would love the light for taking food snaps, but would hopefully be immediately asked to leave if they tried.
Mine host has a kipper, a big juicy kipper that looks gorgeous. A tangle of watercress and a lemon in muslin is beside it while a dollop of butter slowly pools over the poisson. I have a fine and simple ham omelette; simple but never easy. Many a feted chef who can make sous-vided micro basil leaves dance on the head of a pin would fall apart if asked make a proper omelette.
The Arts Club seems to have a special membership section of gorgeous women, as well as artists and Tracy Emin, because more and more are coming into the room all the time with thin silver bangles tinkling on their beautifully slender wrists. They only have coffee, the fruit and the patisserie, of course. This is fortunate because If I saw one of them tucking into a full English I’d have to be restrained from proposing marriage on the spot.
Elegant and chic, classy without being snobby, the The Arts Club breakfast seems the perfect way to start a day in London. A touch of elegance tucked away in Dover Street.
The Arts Club is Private Members’ Club. If you are interested in becoming a member, please telephone Henrietta on 020 7 290 3555.