Sessions Arts Club

4th Floor, Farringdon, 24 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0NA, United Kingdom

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Sessions Arts Club is in the old judges’ dining room at Sessions House, a Grade II* listed building in Clerkenwell. The building originally opened in 1782 as the UK’s largest courthouse, which continued in active use until 1920. From 1931 to 1973 it acted as the headquarters for the Avery weighing machine company, after which it was restored by a masonic trust in 1979 as a conference venue. In 2014 it was acquired by brothers Ted and Oliver Grebelius, who later converted it to a restaurant and bar and also an arts space, as well as a member’s club.   

The sixty-seat dining room is surrounded by three terraces with fireplaces, rooftop bar, and a garden. The main restaurant launched with Florence Knight overseeing the kitchen, but she left in January 2024, and since February 2024 the kitchen has been run by chef Abigail Hill, who was formerly sous chef here. The menu is a “sharing plates” one and you are encouraged to order three savoury dishes per person, so as ever with this format the bill can add up to more than may initially seem likely.

The wine list had 155 labels and ranged in price from £28 to £702, with a median price of £98 and an average markup to retail price of 2.7 times, which seems positively kind these days in London. Sample references were Bodega Latue 'Don Tinto' Castilla La Mancha 2022 at £29 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £11, Stein Rosé Secco Mosel 2022 at £56 compared to its retail price of £28, and Fedellos do Couto ‘Bastarda’ Ribeira Sacra 2019 at £91 for a wine that will set you back £28 in the high street. For those with the means there was Didier Daguenea 'Blanc Fume de Pouilly 2011 at £275 compared to its retail price of £84, and G. H. Mumm & Co Cuvée René Lalou Champagne 1979 at £581 for a wine whose current market value is £377.

Eel, beetroot and chervil was a snack sized dish of smoked eel with a disc of beetroot, whose acidity was a good foil for the rich eel (14/20). Guinea fowl rillette and mustard was pleasant though for me a bit more mustard would have been beneficial (13/20). Globe artichoke and verjus vinaigrette was very simple but fine, the dressing nicely sharp (13/20). Celeriac, apple and brown shrimp was a pleasing combination, with the contrast of earthy celeriac, the slight sweetness of shrimp and the sharpness of the apple, all in good balance (14/20).

The best dish of the meal was a classic risotto made with carnaroli rice and topped with shaved Australian black truffle (supplied by Natoora). The rice was precisely cooked and had nicely absorbed its stock resulting in a silky texture, the heady fragrance of truffle adding an element of luxury (15/20).

Beef tartare used rump of beef from Hereford in Scotland supplied by butcher HG Walter in west London. This came with Roscoff onions and grumulo, a purple-coloured bitter leaf of the chicory family rather like radicchio. This was a well-constructed beef tartare, again well balanced with the bitter leaves and sweet onions (14/20). Pork with prune and mash potato was simple but nicely cooked, the buttery mash having excellent texture, the sharpness of the prune going well with the pork (14/20).

Lemon cream posset used Amalfi lemon and was accompanied by amaretti biscuit, made with ground almonds sugar and egg whites. Posset is a deceptively easy dish made just from cream, lemon and sugar, but getting a precise balance of these elements is important. This version worked very well, with the lemon and sugar nicely balanced and the amaretti providing a textural contrast (14/20). Heather honey cake was also good, its texture pleasing and the cake not overly sweet, accompanied by caramelised blood oranges which provided some acidic balance (14/20).

The coffee supplier was Hundred House, a speciality roaster from Shropshire, and the espresso was indeed very good, with nice acidity. The beans were not over-roasted as often happens with cheaper industrial coffees. Service was friendly, with our waiter patiently (if slightly bemusedly) answering my foodie questions. The restaurant was packed out at this Friday lunch in February, and apparently the place is almost always very busy. The bill came to £86 per person with a couple of glasses of wine. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might come to around £95 a head. Sessions Arts Club has clearly found a winning formula, with an appealing menu, friendly staff, capably cooked food and a beautiful dining room, all at a price that does not seem excessive these days in London.

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