Sunday, 1 November 2009
National Liberal Club.
Went for dinner at the National Liberal Club on Friday with the Baron of Bermondsey and his friends the mysteriously named 'Badger Club'. I have been to quite a few of London's Gentlemens Clubs and this was one of the most 'clubbable' I have been to. The place strikes you first due to the lovely airy dimensions coupled with the typical dark wood fittings and the not so typical tiling on the walls and columns. This Anglofied Orientalism takes one back immediately to the clubs Victorian heyday. Sadly the place is much reduced in size and the library book stock sold due to some past financial impasse. However there is no intimation of this, unlike a few other nameless clubs that have a rather threadbare desperate feel to them. Perhaps it is because the raucous Savage club lurks, a club within a club, deep within. I suspect however that the fact it is based on a liberal foundation, is somewhat closer to the heart of London than it's Mayfair cousins and lets women in has led to a subtext of eccentric bohemianism.
We had drinks in the room above then decamped to a rather grand traditional dining room, for equally traditional, and by club standards, very good food. The staff were friendly and the impression was that the clientele were regular, rather than people from the Home Counties treating callow godsons to a special night out.
Another advantage was that the place has a spectacular terrace overlooking the Thames, and as the bearded one was keen to point out, his own holy grail: a billiards room. All in all I was quite impressed. The National Liberal Club is quietly showy, that is with the exception of a rather flamboyant marble curvaceous stair case at it's heart.