Zak Smith on an upstart Soho membership club
Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, London has them all in abundance. However, D&D Group have spotted a gap: an all-day-all-night entertainment space for freelancers, foodies and live music, and via a multi-million pound fit out of the former Floridita and Marquee Club in the heart of Soho, opened 100 Wardour Street Lounge last week. With the aim of toppling the hegemony of Soho House and Groucho Club in the soho social scene, it has a big fight on its hands.
The event space and restaurant, which in its previous incarnations hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and the late David Bowie, is the newest addition to D&Ds ever expanding hospitality group. In a nod to its past and desire to resurrect a once famed Soho venue, 100 Wardour cut the ribbon via current comeback king Craig David, who performed to a packed room of London’s movers and shakers.
The venue is cavernous, with space for 425 covers and over 800 for live music events, and visually a world away from its previous life. Stylish and laid back, the upstairs houses a cosy and inviting lounge, as well as an enormous circular bar, which during the day hosts freelancers, media men and creatives, buzzing from one meeting to the next over cappucinos, homemade quinoa granola and gluten free pancakes.
With dark hues, colourful furniture and a sophisticated yet relaxed feel, it has style equal to Soho House, and felt contemporary and fresh, in a similar way to its sister London hotel, South Place. Without the membership malarkey there could very well be an impact on the crowd in the long run, but for now, at least it means a lower concentration of try-hards.
At night, the place really came alive. Executive chef Liam Smith-Laing, formerly of La Petite Maison, put together an eclectic Mediterranean-inspired menu, which felt less of a serious culinary experience and more about creative yet approachable good food for sharing casually over multiple cocktails. The smoked salmon flatbread with edamame was fun, and overall, the food was perfect for the environment, however the winner was the French Toast with tonka bean ice cream, so melt in your mouth soft I felt my paunch ripple with excitement as it arrived.
The downstairs live music venue and club is really where the magic happens. D&D kept the old stage from its previous tenants, and are using it to great effect. There will be live music Tuesday through Saturday, each night a different theme, and apparently some big acts are being lined up for the coming months.
All this comes off the back of D&Ds last grand opening, The German Gymnasium which despite hype, received less than favourable reviews. The pressure was clearly on, and, for the most part, 100 Wardour Street Lounge delivered. A fun, stylish and approachable venue, it will no doubt draw the crowds, and with a 3am licence, will definitely quench the thirst of Soho’s night owls.