You might think London hardly needed another private member’s club – but Albert’s is breathing new life into South Kensington’s sleepy Sloane zone, writes Matthew Hardeman
When the weather gets cold, there is little I value more than a cosy nook blessed with good food, great service and a supply of terrifyingly fine wine. A private member’s club usually fits the bill – but frankly, many of them are getting (or, at least, feeling) a bit old in 2018.
Cue Albert’s – London’s latest private member’s club, and new favourite of the Royals (not to mention the likes of Harry Styles, Poppy Delevingne and the ‘who’s who of London’s social scene’), founded by London socialites Jake Parkinson-Smith, Carlo Carello, Piers Adam and Fraser Carruthers, the foursome behind some of the capital’s most well-known nightclubs: Mahiki, Whisky Mist, Boujis (RIP) and Raffles, who invited Spear’s down to sample its best on Valentine’s Day.
Heading down the dark Balmoral-tartan-clad staircase at 92b Old Brompton Road, coats are taken and dress is duly eyed for infractions to the code as we’re led to the bar to sample some of the tastiest cocktails we’ve tried this side of Mayfair. Two down, and we’d almost forgotten that we had come for dinner. Thankfully, we were gently reminded and ushered to our table where we mulled the menu and mumbled something about sharing our starters in quiet breaths. Our charming South African waiter hadn’t missed it – he appeared moments later with sharing plates. Ah, attention to detail. Test one, passed. A few moments later, the waiter re-emerges with two clean, succulent servings of scallops and burrata, which we washed down satisfied. Test two, passed.
But Albert’s isn’t just about great food – billed as more of a playground to the ‘grown up’ made in Chelsea set, this is an establishment built for ‘dinner and dancing’ (nightclubs are dead, in case you hadn’t heard). It also boasts weekly members’ events including live music performances, ‘international DJs, exclusive parties, dining experiences, tutorials, networking evenings, cultural talks and games nights’.
The giraffe-skin booths (not real, you’ll be pleased to know) and contrasting clubland vibes may feel a tad confusing to the uninitiated, at least on arrival, when the place is likely to be mostly empty (it opens at 6pm – 6PM!). But its sprawling, subterranean space starts to feel a bit more purposeful around 8.30: the neon lights criss-crossing the ceiling light up, casting its wood-panelled walls and art deco paintings (there’s even an original Picasso to our left) in a deep purple, and the booming beat of a house track grows progressively louder. Yet, Albert’s has the feel of somewhere that you could bring your parents.
Albert’s charming manager, Hermano, wheels his silver trolley up to our table to prepare our feast, cutting and carving away at my Steak Dianne, broiling under a rich Hennessy sauce – a house favourite. And it’s utterly delicious: tender, juicy, with a fine balance of flavours.
The side of chunky fries were – well, chunky, and well-cooked (soggy and tepid would be a fireable offence here) while my partner had something of a look of ecstasy as she tucked into her portion of black truffle tagliatelle. By this point the room began to echo with the laughter of the well-heeled who were quickly filling its dance floor themselves, as we began to tuck into what was the last and perhaps the best of the evening: chocolate fondant, with a thick, molten peanut butter core, and pistachio crème brulee with vanilla ice cream, washed down with the last of our Botanists (the in-house cocktail special) and a light Pinot Nero.
All considered, this is some of the best food – and most fun – we’ve had as roving Spear’s gastronomes in ages. And if I had been sensible enough to clear my schedule the following day, we’d have stayed for the dancing. I thoroughly recommend it.
Matthew Hardeman is assistant head of the Spear’s Research Unit
From January until end of March, Albert’s will make two dinner tables available per night non-members to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, on a first-come first-serve basis