Thursday, 15 April 2010

Spring evening in Soho....The Coach and Blacks.

Ahhh.. a sunny London evening. Most residents of this metropolis go and sit in parks. Clothing is shed, millions of yacking international language students appear from nowhere and deport themselves across Soho Square. The tendency is exterior and predominantly park life. For those who cannot be bothered or with hay fever the alternative is to loiter outside a pub getting in peoples way. Yours truly opted for the middle way, inside a pub and surrounded by natural substances. Well wood counts, and there is something organic about the Coach and Horses. Or rather the clientele. I like the fact you can usually sit down. We did next to two charming ladies, one of whom was wearing excellent shoes and was an expert on Moth execution. It is, in case you dandy types had forgotten, also the beginning of Moth Apocolypse season. Remember it is them or your cashmere. The bearded one declared himself to be well pleased to be back in Soho....

We were on our way to meet Sue and Steve who were taking us to Blacks, the private members club in Dean Street. I like Blacks far better than its close neighbours, the Groucho and Soho House. Partially because it has let us into the bar when desperate and also because it still has a feel of being Georgian rather than an ambitious boutique hotel in the Home Counties. The membership also has a louche edge, perhaps because the odd ex-Colony room type number amongst its members or perhaps because it has a bed in one of the nooks in the upstairs club room. I had however never eaten there. This was the first time also that I had been there earlier on in the evening. The place looks better in the darkness, not because there is any thing wrong with the decor but because at night it has a bibaesqe romance, all dark corners and twinkly lights.

The first thing that struck me on this occasion was how crowded and noisy it was. I put this down to the sudden arrival of sunshine but our host felt that perhaps the membership had grown. It took an hour and a half to get to our table. The company was excellent, and having all been busy we were a bit weary and very hungry by the time we made it. The food was good value for the 25.00 set menu but there could have been more and I felt that the restaurant showed the signs of having been caught unawares and run ragged. I love the dining room decor, lovely dun blue painted wood panelling, sea shell sconces and a large steampunkish geographical instrument doo dad hanging from the ceiling. All very Peter Greenaway meets Congreve, an effect enhanced by the presence of Hogarth prints adorning the walls. Lovely room, shame about the fact that a table behind us was a group of very young, very loud girls. It was like being in the student union bar. Still all this aside I think it is one of the most attractive and charming of the modern private clubs, that it has a distinct charm and I could not fault the company.

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