Dinner at Century Club, Shaftesbury Avenue
61-63 Shaftesbury Ave
Until a couple of weeks ago, if you asked me to name more than five members’ clubs in London I would have struggled. It wasn’t until I was invited to dine at one I had never heard of that I did a bit of digging. And the results were surprising. I didn’t find out the exact number, but I can guarantee you that if you regularly walk the streets of London, you’ll pass a fair few lurking behind inconspicuous doorways, without even knowing what is behind them.
Enter Century Club. Situated on Shaftesbury Avenue, right in the heart of London’s theatreland and media district, the discreet and hidden four storey members club sits proud and unassuming.
Soho on a Friday night these days can be a pretty treacherous experience, with after work drinkers spilling out onto pavements in their droves, so the knowledge of dining in a members club, away from the unwanted hustle and bustle, was a comforting thought.
At 7pm, I headed to Soho’s largest roof terrace with my boyfriend. Over the last few weeks, both of us have made it our mission to visit some of London’s best restaurants and have enjoyed some pretty spectacular meals in the process. But more on those another time.
I have been in this game a long time now, so even though I genuinely didn’t know anything about Century Club, I had a feeling that it would be exactly what I was expecting. And you know what? It was.
Century’s entrance on Shaftesbury Avenue is quite easy to miss, especially after a large G&T, but we finally caught sight of the unassuming door, buzzed and were greeted with classic piano music a big smile in the foyer.
We were directed to the fourth floor roof terrace and seated at our table. My boyfriend sat down opposite me and I had to giggle. He felt further away than usual and looked like a child sat at a grown up’s table. I then realised that my arms, as long as they are, were also reaching higher than I’m used to at a dinner table. I looked down and saw that the summer style wicker chairs were not the right height for the tables. But it didn’t matter – it was a very minor issue and it meant that I got to silently giggle at him all night.
First up, we looked at the extensive cocktail menu. I didn’t make it past the first page, as my eyes caught glimpse of ‘The Journalist’, a mix of Flor de Caña, liquorice syrup, lime juice, sugar syrup & mint. my boyfriend opted for something a little more intense in the form of Il Padrino, a bitter mix of Disaronno, Campari, orange juice & lemon juice.
The menu is made up of sandwiches, salads, pasta and steak. It was interesting to see a Josper Grill section for the first time in a few years, prompting flashbacks to a time in London where if your slab of meat wasn’t cooked on a Josper grill, it was considered inedible.
To start I ordered the Duck Breast & Foie Gras with Celeriac, Onion Petals, Shimeji, Radishes & Pomegranate Molasses. Josper lured me in with his fiery charm and I opted for the fillet steak with a side of broccoli for main. My boyfriend chose wisely with the octopus starter and also bowed down to Josper’s charms by ordering a fillet steak for main.
Our starters were presented well, although both were not as hot as we might have expected. My boyfriend’s octopus was cooked well, without a hint of chewiness, but my duck was slightly overcooked and on its way to tough town. I wasn’t deterred from clearing my plate however, as the pomegranate molasses helped to redeem the dish.
The star of the show for both of us was the steak. Cooked just how I like it, pink and tender in the middle, seasoned and charred on the outside. We also both had a glass of Malbec, which arrived at the perfect, and I mean perfect temperature. Very impressive wine, considering it was selling by the glass.
Service at Century is friendly. The little attentive touches were slightly lacking, but the manager seemed to be keeping as tight a ship as he could, right at the helm of the restaurant. Would I recommend it? For a quiet guaranteed table in an interesting Central London setting? Yes, I would. You may have to be a member to dine there, but Century has competitive membership options – see below for more details. Be assured though that this is not fine dining, so if you don’t go in expecting that, you’re guaranteed to have a pleasant experience.
The thought of dessert before a mini Friday night bar crawl didn’t appeal, so we finished our wine and headed back and into the Soho madness.
For more information and membership options, click here.