9 Adam Street, London WC2
Tel: 020-7379 8000
Cost: about Â£30-35 for three-course lunch
Members clubs with good dining rooms have made an incredible resurgence in the past few years, opening to the public at lunchtime for the exposure (and the extra revenue), most notably Montyâs on Sloane Street. Adam Street is a quiet little enclave of Georgian buildings by the architect Robert Adam, off the Strand. Itâs also the latest members club to throw its hat into the âopen for lunchâ ring.
The genteel Adam exterior and ground floor entrance do not prepare you for the warm, engagingly modern interior. And very little (even reading a good description) will prepare you for the modern, vaulted bar and dining room. This was the space previously occupied by the Green Room, but its own mother wouldnât recognise it now, opened, as it is, to the buildingâs original structure. And how well structured it is, two graceful rooms each describing a gentle parabolic arch, reminiscent of Spanish Modernist architecture. Appropriately, the most notable feature in the bar is the bar itself, a lovely curved thing made from very thin marble veneer, backlit to give a warm glow. Or was it the Bloody Mary?
The dining room continues the cosseted feeling of being wrapped up in a warm, white duvet with a bit of an edge coming from the fireplace filled with hanging light bulbs. The cooking, from chef Alastair Ross (ex-Leithâs), is in much the same vein. Deep-fried devilled whitebait is a perfect example of its type, the fish crisp and lightly spiced, with a good, garlicky mayonnaise. The Adam Street terrine is a bit of sophisticated country cooking, rabbit and Puy lentils wrapped in Savoy cabbage with each element punching its weight.
From the daily club menu, roast pork belly with mash and roasted apples could not be faulted, giving a crispened upper layer of flesh that becomes more yielding as it nears the thin layer of fat which was well cooked and possessing a delicious succulence. Add some perfectly creamy mash, firmly roasted turned apples and a rich brown gravy and you're well on the way to contentedness. The salmon fish cake is a good bit of comfort food, with big chunks of salmon nicely held together, bathed in beurre blanc. There are also daily dishes like Irish stew, steak and kidney pie and a fish pie.
Desserts are also hard to fault. Blackberry and apple crumble is all it should be, juicy fruit below, not too much rich crumble above and a nice puddle of custard all âround. Eton mess does not win any prizes for looks but the mix of strawberries, cream and oats as prepared here does induce a sense of happy mouth. The wine list is fairly extensive, impeccably sourced by Nick Tarayan (also ex-Leithâs) and sensibly priced. Such a good lunch suddenly made club membership seem quite desirable.