Duck into the anonymous grey door at 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue and into the oasis of calm that is Century Members’ Club. Fear not; mere mortals will no longer get the boot should they not be card-carrying members. For the first time in its 10-year history, the exclusive club has thrown open the doors to its Brasserie to allow the riff-raff to rub designer-clad shoulders with the rah-rahs; and having been personally invited, Hg2 couldn’t wait to slink inside and check it out.
The club takes up the entire block, with no less than 100 stairs leading up to the al fresco roof terrace and bar (hence the ‘Century’ in its name). Thankfully, we only needed to ascend the first staircase to reach the Brasserie, a casual dining room with exposed red-brick, plenty of light wood, a selection of tasteful artworks and slats on the windows to allow enough light to stream in without showcasing the grotesque view that is Shaftesbury Avenue. Molton Brown toiletries in the loo add a nice touch.
It wasn’t particularly busy when we arrived (it was a Monday evening, after all), but by the time we left at around 10pm the place was busy enough to create a buzz. The crowd was well-dressed and well-heeled, as expected, with one chap in the corner talking about his ‘shack’ in Monte Carlo. Who knew shacks even existed there?
After perusing the simple, brasserie-style menu over a glass of incredibly good (and reasonably-priced) 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, we plumped for starters of caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart – extremely filling, rich and deliciously creamy – and simple steak tartare, served moist but requiring a little more spice with the help of Tabasco. Mains were more adventurous, with an order of poussin with garlic, lemon, rosemary and green beans – just the right size and bursting with flavour – and rose veal cutlet with roquefort and sage butter, cooked perfectly pink but overpowered somewhat by the incredibly rich sauce smeared over the entire thing. Desserts, meanwhile, comprised of pear tarte tatin and crème fraîche – nice, if not a little bland – and Valrohna chocolate mousse and honeycomb ice-cream, which was truly the stuff sweet dreams are made of.
The food here isn’t exactly cheap – main courses are generally around £17 – but you do get what you pay for with good, hearty fare served with a smile. Highly recommended is the pre- or post-theatre menu, with two courses setting you back just £13.50 and three courses no more than £15.50. An extremely economical way to experience the new-found delights at Century Brasserie. We, for one, will certainly be returning – theatre or not.
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