Nestled in the heart of Soho, Blacks is one of London’s oldest members’ club. Originally built in 1732 by the apprentice to Christopher Wren, the Georgian townhouse is as unique as it is elegant, mixing warm, country pub touches with urbane elegance and impressive architecture. “The Club” itself was initially conceived as a Supper Club by an esteemed triumvirate consisting of the literary critic Samuel Johnson, the influential painter Joshua Reynolds, and the actor and playwright David Garrick. With a storied history like that, its no surprise that Blacks is alive with a sense of heritage and illustrious tradition and, although the club serves much more than supper these days (it was taken over by notorious poacher Tom Bantock in 1992, who converted it into a debauched alternative to White’s Club, London’s oldest and crustiest Gentleman’s Club, and is now owned by Ben Goldman since 2014), it’s a good a place as any in town to grab something to eat.
Blacks Members' Club
We spend a leisurely day at Blacks, one of London’s best hideaways.
The menu’s so good, in fact, that you’ll be hard-pressed to choose what to have – informed and unobtrusive waiters are there to lend a gently guiding hand if required. We kicked things off with Tiger prawns cooked in garlic butter (always a winner), before opting for the slow cooked lamb shoulder which, falling off the bone in succulent chunks and full of ancient, wine soaked flavour, was a real standout. That herb fregola didn’t go down to badly either, and was a welcome change to the potato hegemony one encounters so often with lamb. Finish with a dark chocolate ganache because, firstly, it comes with sea salt crumb, and secondly, because chocolate’s really the only way to finish a meal of these decadent proportions. Oh, and wash down with Blacks’ own Cotes de Rhone Rouge from 2013 – plummy but never overbearing: heaven.
Feeling appropriately stuffed, head down into The Den. One of London’s coziest hidden treasures, this wood paneled room, with its wing-backed Chesterfield chairs in battered burgundy and its roaring open fire, warms the cockles in true style. As if that wasn’t enough to fulfill your fantasies of Old World aesthete leisure, there’ll be more friendly and accommodating staff – some of whom have been at the place for over a decade – ready to bring you a V.S. Courvoisier or, indeed, a simple cup of coffee. Forget what you think you know about members’ clubs: you’ll find no pretension, no sexist door policies and no stuffiness here, just good vibes, good design, and great staff. Plus, the dog lovers among you will be pleased to know that man’s (and woman’s) best friends are very welcome indeed. What could be better?